Sentinel Michael Vickers
My time with Sentinels of Freedom has been extremely beneficial as well as giving me peace of mind. While I have been in school, I have had a number of events that had a great impact on my life giving me the opportunity to shift focus on myself and what I need to do for my future. The financial assistance offered to me offered me the opportunity to keep the focus on my studies. So often I saw students both young and old in school that had a tremendous amount of stress on themselves with how they were going to be able to afford tuition, books, and basic living expenses. I was blessed to never lose sight of my goals to worry about those things thanks to SOF.
While in school you are surrounded by other students and faculty but there is always a sense of being on your own. I always had Samantha Chapman to reach out to on what I am doing. Samantha was always a kind voice to hear who showed true interest in my health and well-being. Whenever I accomplished my short-term goals, she always congratulated me and celebrated my victories. The worksheets on goals and budgets proved to be an important step in providing me with the momentum to stay the course.
Now that I have graduated from UTSA I have applied to the law enforcement academy here in San Antonio. The academy is not affiliated with anyone particular police department which gives me the opportunity to get my peace officer license without committing to a specific department. The academy is roughly eight months, in the end, I will be able to apply to a medium to the small-sized department and begin my career as a police officer.
Over the years I have learned a lot about myself. I was bitter, angry, and lost when I was retired from the Marine Corps. As many do, I lost my sense of purpose and struggled. I started school worried in the beginning as I was not a strong student in high school. I started school with no real plan and treated the long process with the same mentality I had when I went to boot camp. I only concentrated one week at a time and did not think about the long game. That process helped me not worry or become anxious. What I learned about myself more than anything is that I am capable of so much more than I thought. Sentinels of Freedom offered me more than anything an opportunity to rediscover who I am and what I want to do going forward. I can’t begin to explain how much appreciation I have for Sentinels of Freedom and the opportunities they give to all the veterans who can call the SOF family.
Since graduation from UTSA, I have attended a law enforcement academy where I gained my peace officer license. I have recently begun applying to police departments in my area. I have recently tested with a department and look forward to joining the ranks again of a team where I can give back to a community that has given me a chance to find my path again.
I would like to personally thank everyone who makes Sentinels of Freedom possible. All the staff and donors have no idea just how much they mean to me and the rest of the veterans they help. Thank you so much, you all have given me the opportunity to find my new purpose.