No Boundaries For Alumnus

After a week of rock climbing, rafting, fly fishing and more, George Kalinowski was most excited about being among fellow veterans who really listened.

Kalinowski, a Vietnam veteran and East Carolina alumnus, was one of ten participants on a recent trip that allowed combat wounded veterans to bond and realize new capabilities through specially adapted outdoor sports. From Aug. 9-14 at the National Sports Center for the Disabled in Winter Park, Colorado, Kalinowski and veterans of other conflicts like Iraq and Afghanistan were able to build confidence and camaraderie.

“The trip was outstanding. Everybody was opening up. I think they liked having the old guy there,” said Kalinowski, who suffered shrapnel wounds in Vietnam and received a Purple Heart. “No one takes the time to listen to veterans, at any age. With the guys, we opened up more when we realized we’d gone through similar things. They wanted to hear what I had to say. They were really supportive, and I wanted to support them too.”

Kalinowski was selected for the trip after applying through the East Carolina Alumni Association Military Alumni Chapter. This year, the chapter partnered with No Boundaries, a non-profit that offers this trip to veterans from across the country twice a year, in the summer and winter, at no cost to veterans.

“My favorite part was the fly fishing, but every activity was great,” he said. “A couple times, I doubted myself, and thought some of this stuff was beyond what I could do at my age. But everything went really well.”

Kalinowski grew up in the Washington, D.C. area. His father was an Air Force officer. He came to ECU on the recommendation of one of his high school teachers. He joined a fraternity and studied accounting, but was drafted into the Army before he could graduate. He worked in several fields throughout his career, including real estate and as the part owner of a sign company.

“Life has been good to me, I’ve been fairly well off,” he said. “But being retired, I wasn’t doing much. This trip inspired me to get in shape. My family was worried it would be too much strain. I’ve been a couch potato, but now I’ve got a whole new attitude.”

On the last night of the trip, participants were invited to be guests of honor at a local rodeo. They were brought to the center of the ring as the announcer thanked them for their service.

“The crowd stood up and clapped. I’m not an emotional person, but that got to me,” Kalinowski said. “We were so unwelcome when we came home. I’m so glad the nation is supporting veterans better.”

Kalinowski “overwhelmingly” recommends the trip to other Pirate veterans. “No doubt about it, you won’t be sorry,” he said. “It’s great what these organizations are doing for us.”

The next No Boundaries trip will be March 7-12, 2017. Applications will be due Jan. 2. ECU alumni or students who are combat wounded veterans are encouraged to apply. 

The Military Alumni Chapter hosts various programs throughout the year and is open to any East Carolina alumni with current or past military service. To find more information, get involved or support the chapter, visit PirateAlumni.com/militaryalumni.

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Applications Due June 17 for New Trip for Combat Wounded Veterans

NoBoundariesAre you a combat wounded veteran and an ECU student or alumnus? You’re invited to apply for a special all expenses paid expedition in August, brought to you by the East Carolina Alumni Association Military Alumni Chapter and No Boundaries.

No Boundaries is a non-profit organization that allows combat wounded military veterans to experience adaptive sports activities the National Sports Center for the Disabled (NSCD) in Winter Park, CO.

The No Boundaries program promotes self-esteem, pride and a sense of accomplishment for combat wounded service men and women as they expand their independence and overcome challenges once thought insurmountable. Living together under one roof for six days, these heroes also benefit from group socialization, camaraderie, teamwork and new life-long friendships with fellow veterans who are in the same situation and experience the same challenges in life.

noboundaries-200w.pngThis trip, offered twice a year, is full of exciting summer or winter activities. All adaptive sporting activities at the NSCD are tailored specifically for veterans’ needs and are supervised by trained staff. Typical sport activities in the summer include adaptive white water kayaking on the Colorado river, zip lining, ropes courses, rock climbing, downhill mountain biking and fly fishing. Winter trips include adaptive skiing, snowmobiling, ski biking, and tubing. Participants are chosen by application. There is no cost to participants, since the No Boundaries program is completely covered by donations. Flights, transportation, lodging, meals, and activities are included.

Applications are due by the end of the day June 17, 2016.

Selected participants will be notified by June 25, 2016.

The trip will be August 9-14, 2016.

Click here to apply.

 

 

Introducing the ECU Military Alumni Chapter

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Retired Colonel Tom Shubert ’74, center

East Carolina University is known for its support of military students, and now it hopes to become just as well known for its support of military alumni.

The East Carolina Alumni Association is partnering with units across campus to form a chapter for those who have studied at ECU and served or continue to serve in the military. The association is working with both the Army and Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps units and Student Veteran Services.

The chapter will serve a variety of populations, including veterans who came to ECU after serving, and graduates who entered the military after college, either through ROTC or independently.

The first step is to gather data and build a master list of military alumni. While any existing military alumni outreach has been fragmented, this effort would update information across the entire central alumni database.

“We’ve got to figure out a good way to make sure we’re getting to everyone,” said Nicole Jablonski, assistant director of Student Veteran Services. “We’re so close to so many military bases, there’s a big population we can pull from, we just have to find them.”

Accurate numbers for military alumni at ECU are hard to come by. Prospective students applying to ECU have an option to self-identify as military, which doesn’t always happen, and wasn’t always an option in the past. “It’s hard to identify all military students, and alumni numbers are even harder to get,” Jablonski said.

There are roughly 1,500 graduates of the ROTC program at ECU, around 1,200 from the Air Force detachment and more than 300 from the Army detachment.

“There’s a huge untapped potential there,” says Tom Shubert, who graduated from the Air Force ROTC program at ECU in 1974. He retired as a colonel after 30 years of service and now works with the Civil Air Patrol, a civilian auxiliary of the Air Force. “What are these alumni doing now and what can they do to help current students?”

Shubert helped the Civil Air Patrol organize incentive flights for Air Force cadets at the Pitt-Greenville Airport in November. Many of the pilots were ECU alumni who showed students what it’s like to fly military aircraft. Shubert hopes the group will foster more experiences like this.

“I think military alumni would like to be more involved,” Shubert said. “I think they’d enjoy meeting other alumni, but I think they really want to engage with cadets and help them along their careers.”

Military alumni can provide valuable insight and guidance to students.

“A big thing when you leave the military is that you’ve lost your social network, and going to college and getting a degree can seem like an unattainable goal,” Jablonski said. “It can be helpful and motivating for students to see alumni who were once in their situation who have now gotten jobs or started businesses.”

One of the goals for the chapter is to host a military event as part of homecoming, as well as other events where alumni could mingle with students and network.

“This group could help alumni make connections with potential employers,” Jablonski said. “A lot of companies are interested with working with military alumni. It’s a win-win for everyone.”

“We need to put the call out, and when military alumni respond, we need to follow up,” Shubert said.

To find out more or get involved with the military alumni chapter, contact Assistant Director for Alumni Programs Lindsay Raymond-Weston at 252-328-1958 or raymondwestonl15@ecu.edu or visit PirateAlumni.com/MilitaryAlumni.

By Jackie Drake