When Marine Corps Veteran Medicine Flower Blue Star walked into the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s Office of Military and Veteran Services (OMVS), she wasn’t looking for anything more than an opportunity to get involved on campus. In the end, she found much more.
“I was sitting at the front desk and the director and another guy were talking about an event they were putting on for veterans,” Blue Star says. “I thought that was really cool. I didn’t want to be a member of the SVO [Student Veteran Organization], per se. I just wanted to help.”
Fast forward a few months and Blue Star is not only an SVO member, but is working the OMVS front desk and runs the organization’s social media pages. She has found opportunities to get involved and help other veterans as well.
Her journey to UNO and OMVS began years ago when she, a self-described “Air Force brat,” and the rest of her family moved around the country according to where her step-father was stationed. The family’s stops included a few short stints in Nebraska.
Despite growing up in a military family, Blue Star hadn’t always planned to enlist. She was uncertain of which path to take after graduating from high school, and a phone call from one of her brothers who had recently joined the Marine Corps convinced her to enlist as well. She wasn’t completely happy with her decision at first.
“After I joined, I thought ‘oh, shoot. I’m stuck here,’” Blue Star says. “I’m going to have to do this.”
She quickly grew to love being in the Marine Corps after developing a sense of camaraderie with her fellow troops. She credits this closeness with creating an inner pride and shaping her identity, as well.
“It’s like you stand for something bigger than yourself,” Blue Star says. “I loved that and adopted that.”
Her time in the Marine Corps was not without challenges, however. In fact, Blue Star says her gender was an obstacle she had to continuously overcome since the male to female ratio of her unit was one woman to every 15 men. She dealt with sexist comments and even faced criticism from lower ranking Marines because she was a woman.
“Junior Marines would come in and try to joke around because they know I’m a female and think I don’t know anything,” Blue Star says. “Every unit I went to was the same thing over again. I constantly had to prove myself, which kept me on my toes.”
While serving in motor transportation, Blue Star drove trucks. At the end of her deployment, she was the only woman in her platoon who hadn’t been removed from the road due to an accident or mistake.
“I was very proud of that,” she says. “I knew my job, and I knew it well.”
Blue Star was discharged from the Marine Corps in 2013 and went to live in California. Originally, she didn’t want to come back to Nebraska for college because of the way the Midwestern state is often viewed. In the fall of 2017, she enrolled in classes at UNO.
Since starting at UNO and walking through the doors of OMVS, Blue Star has developed relationships and a sense of camaraderie with other veterans, including four women who had experiences similar to her own while serving.
“Listening and relating to people is huge,” she says. “The initial response to healing is openness and talking about it, so OMVS creates a comfortable environment that allows people to heal.”
Blue Star is studying forensic psychology, American sign language and communications and hopes to work with veterans when she graduates. Her dream career path is largely shaped by her time in the Marine Corps.
“I went through some hard situations and made some bad decisions, but overall, I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” Blue Star says. “I’m very proud of my service, where it’s brought me and what I can do.”