Student-Veteran Spotlight: Abigail Stevenson

Abigail Stevenson,
WIU-QC Veterans Resource Center Representative

Major: Management
Hometown: Cambridge, IL
Class year: Junior
Military status: Air Force veteran

photo of young woman at desk

Stevenson is one of two student-vet representatives in the Veterans Resource Center, located on the 2nd floor of QC Complex, Building C.

Abigail’s Story

When I was in seventh grade, I decided I was going to join the Air Force. I have a family history of members being in the military, from my brother being in Navy, uncles, and grandparents back during World War II.

I enlisted in the military as a junior in high school, in 2009, but I didn’t swear-in until right before basic training in 2010. I served a total of eight years: active duty Air Force Security Forces for two years, and Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) for six. My basic training and technical school were in San Antonio, Texas. I was stationed at Kunsan AFB Korea in 2011 and Ramstein AFB Germany in 2012.

In the Air Force, we are taught three core values: Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence in ALL We Do. However, the most important things I learned from being in the Air Force are that you are not alone, no matter how lonely you feel; that it doesn’t matter how outgoing and tough one is, we are all vulnerable; and no matter what your plans may be, God can change them.

“I learned that you are not alone, no matter how lonely you feel; that it doesn’t matter how outgoing and tough one is, we are all vulnerable; and no matter what your plans may be, God can change them.

On the Experiences that Shaped Who She Is Today

While I was in technical school, I began experiencing some situations that I thought only happened on T.V. Once I was in Korea, the situations started escalating. The experiences caused me to reach a point where I attempted suicide. Thankfully, I had an AMAZING First Sergeant, who literally saved my life. He happened to arrive at the right time. He was able to get me out of the place I was in by telling me, “You will get through this.” He helped me get through the rest of my time in Korea.

However, after I left Korea I went to Germany, and my life seemed to continue to get worse. While there, I was raped. Even though I had massive amounts of support from my friends and leadership, the process of pressing charges and trying to overcome the fear felt like it went on forever. I began to drink and smoke heavily, and my personal life was the worst mess I could ever imagine. Though I was coping with my situation, I found it very difficult to want to go on, but after the intervention in Korea, I was determined to fight.

Almost a year later, I found out I was pregnant and that I had someone to not just live for, but to live well for. Even though my truest desire was to make a career of the Air Force, I chose to get out and be a stay-at-home mother.

Life Today, as a Full-Time Student and Mother

It has been six years since I left the military, and my life goals and plans have been changed so many times that I’ve lost count. What I have found to be true is that all the decisions I have made, and all the decisions that have been made for me, have all lead me to where I am today. If I had never gone through what I am still dealing with today, I would not be here; I would not be healthy; I would not have a beautiful daughter that I love with all my heart; and I would not be able to help others who have gone through, and are going through similar (if not exactly the same) experiences that I went through.

As I reflect on Veterans Day, I want to tell people that just because you have anxiety, depression, or you feel like an outcast, etc., does not mean that there is not someone that is there for you. I want people to know that they are loved and cared about.

By working in the Veterans’ Resource Center at WIU-QC, I am trying to show others how they can overcome their situations too. We do this by providing resources to veterans who either don’t know what available to them, or who need assistance with the process of getting any assistance.

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