By Joshua Smith
Delaware County Community College is the educational home to many U.S. military veterans and current U.S. military reservists from all branches: Army, Navy, Air force, Marines, and National Guardsmen.
Tyshon Bullock, 25, is a U.S. Army combat veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, sociology student, Student Government Association officer, and president of DCCC’s Military Club.
Tyshon is also one of the one percent of the population that stood up, put his hand over his heart, and swore an oath “to protect the citizens of the United States from all enemies, foreign and domestic.”
I spoke with Bullock about his career and experiences in the Army, his life since arriving home from war, and the Military Club’s involvement with veterans in immediate area
What was your position and
involvement with the U.S. Army?
I enlisted in the Army in May of 2008, when I was a junior in high school. The Army has an enlistment option called the “split-ops” program.
The split-ops program allows for high school students to enlist in the Army with the permission of their parents, and complete basic training during the summer between their junior and senior year.
After senior year you then go to Advanced Individual Training (AIT) School to train for your military occupational specialty. My occupational specialty was a cavalry scout. The job of a cavalry scout involves being the eyes and ears of the battlefield.
Our primary mission was to perform recognizance for the Army. We would be ahead of the front lines, in enemy territory, making a safe path for the rest of the army follow.
I was deployed on a tour of duty to Kuwait from December 2012 to August 2013. During my tour, I became a combat veteran and reached the rank of E-5 Sergeant. Currently, I still serve in the National Guard as a cavalry scout.
Towards the end of my tour, while still overseas, I registered for courses at DCCC. I picked my courses based entirely on how interesting the last names of the professors were. That ended up being a great idea.
I picked a professor just because he had a hyphenated last name, Dr. Wilsey- Cleveland. This professor became my mentor. He changed my life, and gave me a different view on school altogether.
What are your thoughts on your
deployment and the conflict you were
My unit was in Kuwait mainly to work with the Kuwaiti military and assist them in training and peacekeeping missions; violence was always our last resort. We worked with all other branches of the U.S. military, including Navy, Air Force, Marines, and National Guardsmen.
The main thing that civilians back in the states misunderstand is that the military is a slow moving machine. Back home they don’t understand why things are not done right away.
Civilians also think we are always looking for violence or a fight. Violence was definitely our last resort. We are far more of a peacekeeping force than we are an assault- based element.
How is your civilian and college life
versus your military life?
Military and civilian life is completely different. In military life, everything is very structured. There are people telling you what to do, where to be, what to bring, and so on. In this aspect, civilian life is actually more difficult.
There is no one telling you to be up, no one telling you what to bring, and where to go; you have to figure it all out for yourself. I have three daughters; I’m a part-time student, a full-time employee, and I serve in the National Guard. Figuring out how to balance my hectic schedule all by myself has been the biggest challenge to far.
What is the most significant thing you
have taken away from military life?
I have learned to adapt and overcome to difficult situations. I may encounter a situation that is less than desirable, but I have the ability now to assess the stressful situation and formulate a plan instead of panicking.
What is the Military Club at DCCC?
I’m currently club president of the Military Club. We are open to anyone who wants to join. However, we require that you support the military and its endeavors.
Our main objective is to help veterans in our community.
How did the recent SGA homeless
veteran breakfast go?
It was very successful! It started slowly in the beginning of the week, with myself and one other member assisting the food drive. However, as the week went on we gained more members and received more aid.
The veterans were very happy. We had about 10-12 veterans every day that we were able to give breakfast to. There were veterans from every war: Korean War, Vietnam War, Desert Storm, and the most recent Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
What are your thoughts on the treat-
ment of today’s veterans upon exiting
the service and returning home?
Besides the Veterans Hospital being a nightmare, Delaware County and the country as whole has a lot of love for its veterans. It is not at all like the deranged treatment that Vietnam Veterans received upon returning home.
Delaware County has a program that enables veterans to register as a veteran in the county and receive discounts from countless stores.
These business owners have no obligation to sign up and become part of this program. This generosity really makes me step back and realized how blessed I am.
How do you feel the public treats you
personally after they know you are a
The treatment is absolutely beautiful. For example, my unit provided security in Philadelphia during the Pope’s visit.
We had a brief break in the late morning, so my unit and I decided to stop over at the local IHOP. At the end of our breakfast, a woman came up to us and said she paid for the meal for all of us.
These things are quite frequent when I’m in uniform. It makes me proud to serve this wonderful country and its people.
Do you have any advice for anyone in- teresting in enlisting into the military?
Yes. First and foremost, know what you are signing up for. Before you sign your name to the enlistment papers, make sure you are happy with the job you sign up for. In hindsight, I would have signed up
for a different job. Don’t’ get me wrong; I enjoy my time as a cavalry scout. But I wish now that I would have enlisted in military intelligence or something where I can be in air conditioning and at a desk [laughs]. Of course, if you plan to finish a four- year degree, and you think you have what it takes to be a leader, become an officer in the military.
Is there anything else you would like
Yes. I would personally like to thank the professor I was telling you about earlier that changed my life, Dr. Wilsey-Cleveland.
He was my English composition teacher during my first semester back in
school after my tour. I originally had the mindset of just merely going to school and coming home. I had no intention of making friends or getting in involved with the school’s clubs and extra-curricular activities. I can never forget Dr. Wilsey- Cleveland’s cool Australian accent telling me to get involved.
He gave me the courage and incentive to join the Environmental Club. This was only the beginning of my transformation into being highly involved in many things here at DCCC. However, without Dr.Wilsey-Cleveland, I would have never been the student I am today.