Interview with Veteran Molly Goldenstar
When you think about containing some of the most dangerous weapons in the world today—chemical and nuclear—you may not readily imagine a woman on the front lines. Yet, that’s what Army CPL Molly Goldenstar pursued during her enlistment. Goldenstar, who served in Korea and trained to disable nuclear weapons at Aberdeen Proving Ground (MD), is wrapping up her Healthcare Unit Secretary course at Greenville Technical College. We were able to speak with her about her transition to civilian life and how VSF has impacted her future.
Why did you choose to enter the military?
I chose to enter the military because I had graduated High School and despite what everyone had told me, I wasn’t comfortable going to college without a plan or idea of what field I wanted to be in. I’m young, I wanted to see what I was capable of and it felt right. Cliché, but that’s how it went.
What positives have you experienced during your transition back to civilian life? Negatives?
Positives: More freedom for the most part. It’s nice not having to wake up before the sun and go for a six mile run or a twelve-mile ruck march. It’s also nice being able to walk and talk on a cell phone, and wear what I want to work.
“Negatives: I miss my friends. You don’t make friendships like the ones in the service. When you meet somebody you don’t see the brand of clothes they wear, or something superficial. You see the person and you learn that you’ve got to depend on one another if you want to succeed. There’s a loyalty that runs deeper than anything I’ve yet to find in the civilian world and it gets to me sometimes.”
What led you to pursue a career change? How did you hear about the Unit Secretary role?
I had originally decided to take Health Information Management, since it’s a growing field. I heard about the Unit Secretary role from a classmate. It was a role I could get certified for relatively quickly and work in the medical field while I was finishing my degree.
How did you hear about the VSF scholarship fund at your college? Did you have any difficulties applying for funds?
When I went to talk to one of the career counselors at the Opportunity Center, I mentioned that I was a veteran, and asked if I could apply my GI benefits towards getting certified as a unit secretary. She said it wouldn’t cover it—but that the VSF scholarship would. It was a painless process and took a lot of weight off my shoulders. I wouldn’t have been able to afford the cost otherwise and it allowed me to reserve my other benefits for my HIM degree.
How do you feel about pursuing employment now or after you receive your degree?
“After I receive my degree I think it will be much easier to find a job than it has been. The jobs that are available to me require working horrible hours or at basic pay. It’s disheartening when you know what you’re capable of but a piece of paper defines your existence.”
How have the scholarship funds impacted your life?
Without the GI Bill and the VSF scholarship I may not be in college right now. I wouldn’t be receiving a housing allowance; I might not even be able to pay my bills. Although I work full time, I don’t make much and I won’t until I graduate. Scholarship funds allow me to reach my goals without drowning in debt and becoming another statistic of my generation. They provide a window of opportunity that’s invaluable.