WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Cape Fear Community College held a ceremony honoring veterans Friday morning and one veteran shared his story about the difficulty of adjusting to civilian life following his military service.
Michael Ramos, a temporary lecturer at UNCW, spoke about his journey as a family man needing to find a job to support his family and the transition to civilian life that few understand.
Ramos enlisted 13 days before the Sept. 11 attacks. He told his Navy recruiter, “I just want to go fight.”
Ramos was then assigned as a religious program specialist. He learned infantry skills and protected the chaplain.
When terrorists flew planes into the Twin Towers in September 2001, Ramos tried to get out of his contract but his recruiter had different plans for him.
“My recruiter laughed and said, ‘You want to go fight. We’re keeping you,’” Ramos recalled.
Ramos was part of the initial military response to the Sept. 11 attacks, and he served in Iraq, Philippines, and Japan.
After nine years of service, Ramos retired and used his G.I. Bill to get his undergraduate and graduate degrees.
Going to school after serving is something hundreds of veterans do, but Ramos said the transition was not easy.
“I was in this mindset of, I didn’t have a job," Ramos said. "I’m supposed to be this civilian guy but I don’t have relevant civilian experiences.”
He said it was difficult to fit in a mold unfamiliar to him, but he used the lessons he learned while in the military to conform to civilian life.
“Once I learned I’m a veteran, I can be proud of it and use the things that the military taught me to be a successful member of society, it got a lot easier,” Ramos said.
Now Ramos, in addition to his work as a lecturer at UNCW, is the assistant director of the publishing laboratory.