Kent State Student and Army Veteran’s Mission: To Serve Those Who Served
It does not have to be a special day of the year for U.S. Army veteran Matthew Helmick-Bickel to provide support and guidance to other veterans as he works at Kent State’s Center for Adult and Veteran Services in Schwartz Center.
For Helmick-Bickel, a senior business major in the Ambassador Crawford College of Business and Entrepreneurship, as Veterans Day approaches the mission remains the same – serving those who serve.
“We have a lot of programs designed specifically for vets,” said Helmick-Bickel, a Massillon native. “Even if it is to get back to them once or twice a semester we let them know that they are not alone and they are being heard and looked after. Especially after you get out of the military because no one is checking up on us anymore. Just to let them know someone is on their side really helps.”
Here is Helmick-Bickel talking to Kent State Today about his work at the Center for Adult and Veteran Services:
Helmick-Bickel, 29, spent five years in the army as an airborne paratrooper stationed at Fort Bragg North Carolina, now known as Fort Liberty, before he enrolled at Kent State in 2020.
He enlisted in the Army in November 2014 on his 20th birthday after spending a year at Ohio University majoring in applied mathematics, then working with his dad in construction for a summer. He is a 2013 graduate of Tuslaw High School in Massillon.
“I realized that applied mathematics wasn’t my calling,” he remembered. “I was looking for something I could dive into and find purpose in a useful way for my future. I decided to go to the Army for a few years until I decided what I wanted to do in school and to give me some life experiences.”
As an airborne paratrooper, he would jump into drop zones and secure the area so that other members of the military could come in and use that land.
“It was cool that we would start off the operation and enable different facets of different branches to do their jobs,” Helmick-Bickel said. “It was like I was solving one big puzzle. I could see all the pieces fall together every time we would do something different.”
Overall, the Army was an excellent experience that he likened to a “well-oiled machine.”
“I also liked the level of professionalism and the work ethic that I saw in other soldiers,” he said. “You just do not see that anywhere else. You know when you were telling someone a task or given a task you knew both sides would get done.”
But after Helmick-Bickel had jumped 30 times as a paratrooper, the rigorous training schedule took its toll and his body told him that it was time to take a break. He decided it was time to put his brain to work and further his education.
Kent State has provided Helmick-Bickel with small classes, private study rooms in the library and amenities like the recreation center. Even the scooters provided on campus smooth out his rough days. “When I was looking for colleges after the military, this seemed like one of the best places for me,” he said.
Since leaving the Army he has also had the privilege of becoming a dad to his two-year-old daughter Luna Marie with his fiancée Jacqulyn Chaboudy and spent one year being a full-time dad.
Helmick-Bickel has enjoyed his time at Kent State, but he does have those days when he misses the Army.
“I’ll catch myself smiling and talking about old times,” he said. “I didn’t feel that way when I was in the Army, but now that I look back, I would not trade that time for the world.”