Javier Correa: Marine Veteran, Former ROTC Cadet, UNO Alumnus & Army Officer
Q: We use the words "military-connected" when referring to all the students we serve through our office here at UNO. When you hear "military-connected" what does it mean to you?
A: I think of everyone: active duty, reserves, veterans, National Guard, ROTC, but also military families along with all those others.
Q: If you would want civilians to know something about you as a combat veteran, or about veterans generally, what would it be?
A: With veterans in general, there is this cultural phenomenon of saying "thank you for your service." I will tell you that there is apprehension about that from veterans because it comes across like people think they have to say it, but it is not necessarily genuine. Maybe a better understanding of service could result in saying something else, like "thank you for your sacrifice," or better yet asking a question.
I would love to see us move away from that "thank you for your service" and have it more personal and about the individual, that has more meaning. Maybe acknowledge that deployments meant you had to be away from your wife and kids for years at a time. We are at the tail end of 20 years of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the American public is largely unaware of the details, both of the wars and the lives of those who have fought them.
Q: Tell me a little bit about your military background.
A: I grew up in an Air Force family. My father retired in 1997 and was stationed at Offutt Air Force Base at that time, so we were a military family. I joined the Marine Corps in 2007 after high school. I was friends with a group of guys that were very competitive and into competitive sports and we all wanted that ultimate challenge, so we joined the Marine Corps.
I did six years and was trained as a helicopter mechanic. Life took a turn and because I was going to get married I made the decision not to re-enlist, but I went into the Army Reserves because I wanted to get my education. This was in 2012 and it was perfect for my life because I was newly married and a college student.
I eventually came to UNO and that is where I decided to do ROTC. It was actually a guy I worked with when I was in the reserves that told me about ROTC. There were preconceived ideas about doing it as someone who had already done six years of active duty, but he convinced me to just focus on the goal: to get the degree, get my commission, and become a leader.
Q: You said you joined the Reserves /ROTC to pay for college, but you were also a veteran so how did you pay for college?
A: I used the GI Bill to pay for school as well as the ROTC scholarship and then also used Army tuition assistance to pay for summer school. I am becoming the transition guy for the soldiers I work with. I tell them all about the SVA, the JST ... I am a huge proponent for all those things I used to get my education and my commission. All those connections I made at UNO.
Q: What is your current role?
A: When I commissioned I chose ordnance and ended up at Ft Bliss, TX. Word got around that I am a former Marine and former reservist and so my commanding officer asked me to be the executive officer. I had the experience, I mean, I am a little older and such, so I said yes. It is a unique set of circumstances as my commanding officer is now on paternity leave, so here I am a new officer - a 2nd Lt - and filling in as Battery Commander. I am definitely living my dream of being a leader.