Cal State Stanislaus student Derek McGinnis was sitting in an ambulance rushing to help wounded Marines in the battle for Fallujah when, suddenly, the ambulance was hit by a suicide driver in a car loaded with explosive devices. From that moment on, McGinnis’ life was changed forever. He suffered severe brain injuries, his left leg was amputated and his hands were seriously wounded.
Now as a Social Work graduate student at CSU Stanislaus, McGinnis shares his experiences and counseling services with veterans who feel alone. McGinnis was also a part of Tuesday’s Veteran’s Day event at the Stanislaus campus. The event was a way to reach out to other local veterans in the community.
“It is going really well,” McGinnis said. “We have had a lot of veterans come by.”
His goal for the program: To “try to get everyone engaged and let everyone know there are other veterans on campus,” he said.
McGinnis said he is hoping to spread the word about support services available to veterans.
“It is normal to have feelings after returning from war,” he said. “We can talk about our experiences. There are things we can do together as veterans.”
Along with McGinnis spreading the word on campus, the Patriot Guard Riders and Blue Star Moms were also at CSU Stanislaus on Tuesday to talk to veterans and remember what they fought for. They brought along with them their motorcycles, all decked out in red, white and blue for the holiday. With his experience returning from the war as a wounded veteran, McGinnis offers support for other veterans through the Modesto Veterans’ Center as a counselor along with promoting on-campus programs to raise awareness about the needs of veterans.
He has also written a book titled “Exit Wounds: A Survival Guide to Pain Management for Returning Veterans and Their Families,” to help returning war veterans deal with the chronic pain of the war and further understand how it affects them along with their families.
Throughout the celebration of Veteran’s Day, McGinnis said he is more focused on thanking previous veterans than highlighting his own service.
“I see Veteran’s Day as a day to thank the people that served before me,” McGinnis said. “I hope one day I can lead the way for people that serve after me.”
Beginning at 9 a.m. today there will be a Veteran’s Day parade in downtown Modesto to honor those who served and fought for our country.
To contact Maegan Martens, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.