By Brianna Rodriguez
When Joe Pack returned to his family after deployment, he couldn’t help but notice how big his daughter Mason had become.
Serving 16 years as a military policeman, Pack served at many different Air Force bases around the world.
He eventually retired in 2004 and came to USF St. Petersburg to study history. He’s now a peer counselor for the university’s Military and Veterans Success Center.
“Being a veteran or military member requires a lot of sacrifice,” said Pack. “Not just fighting wars but also time away from family and sacrificing your personal self. You don’t get to choose what you get to do with your life for however long you are in the military. They tell you what to do with your life. I would like people to remember the people that are serving right now.”
Pack said being separated from family can have a significant impact on service members and their loved ones.
“Let’s say there are some people right now at a base in Alaska. They’re not fighting a war, but their families can sometimes be 3,000 miles away,” he said. “They don’t get to see their family or friends for sometimes months to years at a time. It’s those other sacrifices that I want people to remember.”
He is married to his wife Juli and his daughter now serves in the Army. His father and other members of his family also served in the military.
He first became interested in the military while in high school, where he spent most of his sophomore and junior years talking to reporters. Knowing he wanted to get into law enforcement, he decided to join the Air Force because they were the only branch that could guarantee that.
Graduating high school in 1988, he began his first week of basic training that August.
The time spent in the Air Force has had a lasting impact on his life through lifelong friendships that he has made and the places that he has visited.
Since leaving the military, Pack has found a passion for teaching high school students. He is also a substitute teacher at a local high school and aims to teach students basic life skills like changing a tire or balancing a checkbook when he has the chance.
After graduating USF St. Petersburg, Pack wants to teach high school as a full time history teacher.
This Veterans Day, Pack wants students and faculty to know that veteran students are no more different than non-military students.
“I want people to know that we are not anything different from your average man or woman walking down the street. We just got to where we are a different way,” he said.
Pictured Above: Joe Pack is a senior majoring in history. He is also a peer counselor for the university’s Military and Veterans Success Center. Timothy Fanning | The Crow’s Nest