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UVU student connecting veterans through mentor program

By Braley Dodson daily Herald - | Feb 1, 2017
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Clint Cary, a Utah Valley University student from Logan, works on securing the trigger mechanism as he assembles a rifle Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017 at Cary's mother's home in Payson. ISAAC HALE, Daily Herald

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Clint Cary secures an upper receiver of a rifle to a clamp as he assembles the gun Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017 at Cary's mother's home in Payson. Chaos Arms is the name of Cary's gun company, which he founded in 2011. ISAAC HALE, Daily Herald

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Clint Cary assembles a piece of a rifle Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017 at Cary's mother's home in Payson. Cary, a Logan resident, stays at his mother's home in Payson during part of the week so he can attend UVU. ISAAC HALE, Daily Herald

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Clint Cary screws on the barrel nut as he assembles a rifle Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017 at Cary's mother's home in Payson. ISAAC HALE, Daily Herald

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Clint Cary, a UVU student from Logan, glances out the window as he works on the stock of a rife as he assembles the gun Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017 at Cary's mother's home in Payson. ISAAC HALE, Daily Herald

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Clint Cary works on putting the trigger mechanism in place as he assembles a rifle Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017 at Cary's mother's home in Payson. ISAAC HALE, Daily Herald

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Brayden Hold, 3, Cary's nephew, plays in the living room as Clint Cary assembles a rifle Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017 at Cary's mother's home in Payson. ISAAC HALE, Daily Herald

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Clint Cary looks over a portion of a rifle as he assembles the gun Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017 at Cary's mother's home in Payson. ISAAC HALE, Daily Herald

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Clint Cary works on putting the trigger mechanism in place as he assembles a rifle Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017 at Cary's mother's home in Payson. ISAAC HALE, Daily Herald

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Clint Cary, a UVU student from Logan, holds a nearly-finished rifle he created mostly with his own parts Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017 at Cary's mother's home in Payson. ISAAC HALE, Daily Herald

All students need someone on their side.

For student veterans, who are used to the camaraderie being in the service provided, that buddy is even more essential as they leave the uniform behind for the classroom.

“It is a cultural shock for a veteran,” said Clint Cary, a veteran and senior studying aviation at Utah Valley University in Orem.

Cary is in the middle of piloting a program at UVU that partners veterans together with another student veteran who acts as a mentor. First-semester veterans who are using benefits would be contacted by their mentor twice a month and have two face-to-face meetings a semester as part of the program.

About 600 UVU students are receiving benefits from the GI Bill, which provides financial support to service members, veterans and dependents. It’s estimated there are about 800 student veterans at UVU.

The hope is the program will keep veterans in school, but most importantly, will keep others alive. UVU’s Veteran Success Center has a goal to reach zero veteran suicides.

“We haven’t actually met that goal every year this center has been open,” Cary said. “We’ve had a couple of suicides last semester and the spring before that.”

Cary was in the Marines for eight years before leaving the service in 2014. After a tough start to school, he knows how veterans can feel as if no one is there for them, even if the veteran’s family is helping push him or her through.

“They think one of the biggest reasons people don’t stay in school as a veteran is because they don’t have someone to connect with,” Cary said.

With another veteran there for help, it creates a connection with someone who has a shared experience.

“They kind of have our own language,” Cary said. “We use abbreviations for all kinds of things. Even though someone gets out and they have the brotherhood or sisterhood, they get out and are by themselves.”

Cary is running the program by himself for now, but said the program is being pitched to the university by Veteran Success Center Director Sheldon Holgreen, who did not respond to a request for comment.

The pilot program is Cary’s project for his thesis for UVU’s honors program. He got the idea for the program after attending a conference last year for the Student Veterans of America.

Cary has been working with 34 veterans for the pilot and has already seen results. After speaking to a student, he realized there was a residency issue that would cost the student thousands of dollars. He worked with the student to make him aware of the issue and have it fixed.

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