Stanislaus State Psychology student June Sidlauskas doesn’t expect much recognition, but received some when she was nominated for the Student Veterans of America’s Veteran of the Year Award. She was in “shock and disbelief” when she was in Orlando, Florida for the award ceremony.
“I was proud to represent Stanislaus State at the award ceremony,” she said. “Even though I didn’t win, I’m still very proud because it’s a very small group. I just wanted to thank everyone who supported me. Once I graduate, Stanislaus State will have as big of a place in my heart as the Navy does.”
The national honor went to Katherine Martinez of Old Dominion University, but Sidlauskas, who served 20 years in the U.S. Navy, returned from the national convention with a plaque commemorating her place among the 10 finalists from across the country.
After high school, joining the military just felt like the next logical step and she proudly served her country for two decades. Sidlauskas suffered injuries during her service when her ship was rocked by a severe storm in Puget Sound and a piece of equipment broke loose and pinned her down as she jumped in to push a fellow sailor out of the object’s path. She was able to return to active duty after surgery and a year of physical therapy.
Before coming to Stanislaus State, Sidlauskas was enrolled at Delta College and has been an advocate for helping veterans receive the resources they need.
“A lot of times veterans don’t know about the resources that are available to them or don’t want to reach out for help,” said Sidlauskas. “When I graduate, I want to work in social work and help veterans.”
Even though her experience with Stanislaus State was limited because she started in the middle of the pandemic, she was excited to get some of the full experience last semester.
“I started in 2020 so you really didn’t get to experience the full college experience,” said Sidlauskas. “It’s been great being on campus and experiencing everything college has to offer.”
One thing Sidlauskas wants civilians to keep in mind is that “women are veterans too” and don’t hesitate to thank them for their service. She also wants people to be empathetic to all the struggles veterans go through.
“A lot of the scars are the ones you can’t see,” she said. “You should be kind to everyone, and keep in mind what a veteran could have gone through.”