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Texas A&M University helps veterans find their calling after combat

The Construction Science Department at the university was recognized for having the most veterans involved in the program

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — A department at Texas A&M has been recognized for having the most veterans involved than any other area of study on campus.

Dr. Patrick Suermann, the Department Head for Construction Science, said of the 1300 students in the program, 100 have previously served in the military. Suremann is a veteran with more than 20 years of experience in the United States Air Force, serving in several capacities. The Department Head said one challenge he faced after leaving the military was finding the same sense of camaraderie enjoyed.

"That is one thing I can empathize with because that part is difficult. There's a lot of mandatory fun in the military, but you realize later it actually is fun," said Suermann.

As the Department Head, Suermann said that when he first came to A&M in 2017, he reached out to several veterans to build connections with people who experienced similar circumstances he had to undergo.

"The best way to figure things out after the military is to put yourself under the wing of somebody who is already successful and then hopefully you can be that person for someone else," said Suermann.

Nicholas Butts, a Construction Science student at Texas A&M, served in the United States Army for five years in both Colorado and Hawaii. He said he had to leave the army for medical reasons and was afraid about transitioning into a new environment away from following orders.

"I actually got hurt in the military; I was medically discharged. So that was my deciding factor behind not serving in the military anymore. I wasn't combat-ready," said Butts. "Is it going to be rough getting a job? Am I going to find something I like? So it's scary and frightening."

The previous service member is currently in his junior year at Texas A&M and said he enjoys the field he's pursuing because of the everyday need for construction workers.