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Student veterans observe 10th anniversary of Iraq invasion

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Chris Silvasman, 24, a first-year student at Santa Fe College served in the Middle East for four years after 9/11. (Photo by Leah Harding/WUFT News)

Ten years ago today, President Bush declared war with Iraq, starting the beginning of an invasion that has killed more than 6,000 soldiers in combat.

Years after they’ve returned from combat, some Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom veterans are transitioning into civilian life at Santa Fe College.

Chris Silvasman, 24, is in his first year at Santa Fe College and is among the 750 enrolled veterans at the school.

Silvasman entered the war as Marine when he was 19 years old and served in the Middle East for four years. He said the dream of serving his country started after 9/11.

“To be honest, that was one of the huge deciding factors for me for wanting to join the military,” Silvasman said.

Silvasman said coming home from war was harder than transitioning into war as a teenager.

His friendship with fellow veterans made the transition a little smoother.

“You become a part of brotherhood,” he said. “You’re doing the same things and think the same way. When you transition out, you realize there is a whole lot more world than you’re used to.”

Sandra Torres-Pintos, director of veteran affairs at Santa Fe College, said helping students like Silvasman extends beyond the confines of a classroom.

“We consider ourselves to be a one-stop shop simply because we don’t just take care of them in their educational benefits, but we try to ensure they are signed up with the VA hospital, have financial aid and have a place to live,” said Torres-Pintos, who served in the Marines for 25 years.

Torres-Pintos said this week she has been helping students with the memories of war that are resurfacing on the anniversary.

Leila Milgrim wrote this story online. 

About Ethan Magoc

Ethan is a journalist at WUFT News. He's a Pennsylvania native who found a home reporting Florida's stories. Reach him by emailing emagoc@wuft.org or calling 352-294-1525.

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