Finding Family After the Military

Why do many veterans, at some point during their time at Vassar, cycle through the rugby team? It may be because the men and women’s rugby teams offer the ability to seamlessly transition from prior military service into academic endeavors. Becoming a student-athlete allows us to stay active, engage with a younger generation and build a sense of community. Personally, coming to a prestigious college where you feel both behind in your studies and older than the general population, it’s hard to find your people. The rugby team reflects some of the experiences that I had while in the army. The diverse community of athletes that the team attracts yearly speaks directly to the culture of the sport. In my experience, rugby, much like the military, accepts you no matter your racial background or socioeconomic standing. While the military’s culture surrounding mental health is dated, our team supports each other at every turn. It could be as simple as studying together or encouraging or giving someone a hug when they aren’t having the best day. But I think the best part of this team is seeing the perseverance and determination in each player. Since most veterans come to Vassar rugby with little to no knowledge, the ability to be knocked down and pick each other up shows the adaptability needed to get through boot camp and games. It is easy to hop right back up after a tackle when you know that your teammates are right there. I was lucky enough to find my community , my people on that team.

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