MSU students served their country

Veterans Day has added significance to students at Minot who served their country and, in some cases, still have lasting effects.

MSU student Michael Carswell served 20 years in the U.S. Air Force before he was discharged last November. On Sept. 11, 2001, he was stationed at the Pentagon and still suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder from what he saw on the day of the attacks.

For him, Veterans Day and many other holidays are also days to touch base with others who served.

For months at a time, he and one of his good buddies might not talk, but on Veterans Day or Memorial Day or the Fourth of July, you can count on one of them to make a phone call to the other.

Carswell has sought treatment for his post-traumatic stress disorder and jokes that “there’s a convention every year of all the shrinks I’ve seen in the last decade” but fellow veterans can offer support in a way that others can’t.

It might be hard for fellow students, many of them much younger, to understand why Carswell becomes short-tempered if something goes a bit wrong during a class sometimes it’s the post-traumatic stress sneaking up on him. But fellow veterans who have gone through the same things have a shared bond.

“If at any point, any of them called me needing some help, I would be there,” he said, and he knows the same is true of them.

Carswell worked mainly in primary communications, handling electronic, secure communications, during his years in the Air Force. He was last stationed at Minot Air Force Base. Now, as an older than average student, he has returned to school in pursuit of an accounting degree.

Carswell said that Minot State’s veteran services program has been helpful in managing all of the paperwork and making things run more easily for students who are veterans.

Carswell said he’s also thankful for the the help offered through the Veterans Affairs Vocational Rehabilitation program in Bismarck, which has helped fund his education and some of the extra expenses that go along with his education, such as travel expenses and equipment, including a new computer and printer that he has used for his classes.

Not everyone is aware of what it offers, said Carswell, but the program serves any veteran who is 20 percent or more disabled.

For MSU student Matthew Hargrove, also an Air Force veteran, Veterans Day is a day to honor all of those who served, those who served in earlier wars as well as current veterans.

When Hargrove went into the Air Force a few years back, he had a family legacy to live up to. His dad had served in the Army and his grandfather had been a Marine. Hargrove, from Arlington, Texas, saw the Air Force as a way to do something better with his life, since he saw many of his friends working at jobs that didn’t seem to have a future. He also married young and liked the stability that was available from the Air Force.

Now that he is out of the Air Force, Hargrove has his sight set on a degree in computer science and perhaps will one day specialize in cyber command or computer security.

Minot State’s Veterans Services office has also made things go more smoothly for him, said Hargrove.

“Up here it’s so easy and supportive,” he said, and he doesn’t think that’s the case at every university.

(Prairie Profile is a weekly feature profiling interesting people in our region. We welcome suggestions from our readers. Call Regional Editor Eloise Ogden at 857-1944 or Managing Editor Kent Olson at 857-1939. Either can be reached at 1-800-735-3229. You also can send e-mail suggestions to