STEVENS POINT - A Rhinelander high school graduate credits a conversation with ultimately convincing him to help veterans when they come home from the service.
David Chrisinger was up late one night in 2010 when he decided to reconnect with Brett Foley, who had come home from Afghanistan. Foley opened up about his struggles. That conversation led Chrisinger to start a website and organize fundraisers designed to help veterans. He also began writing a blog called Stronger at the Broken Places.
"[The blog's title] comes from a Hemingway quote: 'The world breaks everyone, and some are stronger at the broken places,' so that was the whole focus of the class," Chrisinger said.
That class is called Back from the Front. Chrisinger is in his second year of teaching veterans at UW- Stevens Point. He helps them transition from the military to society and into college life.
"The important thing is validating those experiences and listening and giving them an outlet to vent if they need to, to build relationships, to create friendships," he said.
Tyler Pozolinski and Chase Vuchetic are two students who have grown during their time in the class. When Pozolinski came to school at UWSP after his time in the service, he wouldn't tell people that he was a 23-year-old freshman. Now he's proud to say he's a veteran.
"I have no problem telling people, 'This is who I am; this is what I've done," said Pozolinski.
Vuchetic was hesitant to open up to other veterans on campus. Now, thanks to Back from the Front, that isn't the case anymore.
"You kind of start talking," Vuchetic said. "'Hey, you want to go have a beer after class?' 'Yeah, sure,'—and then, before you know it, you've got a really good group of guys and we hang out all the time now."
Pozolinski and Vuchetic will be published in Chrisinger's new book, titled See Me for Who I Am. The book collects 20 essays written by soldiers. The essays detail their experiences both on and off the battlefield. Pozolinki tells the readers about the lessons he learned from a recurring nightmare.
"After a while the dream started to go away, and I started to figure out what the dream meant was that nobody could help me fight my battles or beat my demons but myself," he said.
Vuchetic's essay is about how his parents and high school coaches prepared him for the Marines.
"[I] remember going to Marine Corps boot camp being like 'That was a breeze compared to football practice," he said
The book will be out in February. You can read more about the book and preorder a copy by visiting the links below.
"See Me for Who I Am" on Amazon
Stronger at the Broken Places