11 veterans of World War II, Korea, and Vietnam assembled on a stage in the University Union building. Their service records were read aloud, and each of them was presented with a medal.
Adam Sorensen is a student at the University of Utah, a Marine, and a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was given the University of Utah Student Veteran of the Year Award. During his time in the
military, he excelled in specialized skills, like jumping out of planes, was awarded medals for valor, and the Purple Heart.
After being injured in Afghanistan in 2010, Sorensen returned to the United States to recover, and spent two years teaching Navy S.E.A.Ls and Army Green Berets reconnaissance skills. In 2013, he came to Utah to finish his degree. Sorensen says he enjoys school, but has experienced some emotional trouble since coming back.
“Coming back home and being a student on campus—walking around, day to day, I guess the best thing I can describe it as, is a ghost syndrome,” says Sorensen. “You kind of walk around like you’re detached from everyone else because no one else will ever understand.”
But Sorensen does believe honoring veterans and telling their stories can help civilians connect with the experiences of military service members.
“Nobody will ever experience it unless they’ve been there,” says Sorensen. “That’s why I think it’s a great thing that we bring together men and women who have been there and done it—because you can shake their hand and look at them in the eye, and you know. And that’s really the only way to ever share that.”
Today Sorensen is happily married and studying geography while still being an active Marine. After he finishes his degree, he’ll become a commissioned officer. When his military career is over, he looks forward to pursuing graduate work.