Each Friday during the month of November we are recognizing one of our outstanding Student Veterans who served our country as a member of the United States Military, and is now pursuing a degree at Onondaga Community College. Today we introduce you to Jason Kramer.
Jason Kramer experienced some dangerous situations during his 10 years in the United States Air Force. While serving as a Forward Area Refueler, Kramer and fellow airmen would fly to the outskirts of a mission and provide fuel, ammunition, and supplies, all while working under the cover of darkness.
The most dangerous situation he would ever encounter actually happened a year after he left the military. Kramer was beginning a career as an electrician in Southern California when he was the victim of a home invasion. He was stabbed multiple times and suffered severe internal injuries which would require seven surgeries over the course of 10 days. He was in a coma for a week-and-a-half and his heart stopped beating twice.
When Kramer was able to comprehend what had happened, he began reexamining his life. “I was sad that it was almost the end and, in my mind, I had done all of these things but felt I was always living for somebody else or something else. I was mad at myself in a sense. I needed to get myself together.”
His rehabilitation included relearning things we may take for granted such as walking, talking, swallowing, and breathing because one of his lungs collapsed multiple times. The damage to his lungs made him unable to fly. So after three months in the hospital, his parents drove him from California to their home in Central New York where he would convalesce. "I'm really fortunate they did that because that's how I wound up back here at OCC."
Kramer had graduated from Jamesville-Dewitt High School in 2007, went to the University of Buffalo for a semester, transferred to Onondaga Community College, then signed up for the Air Force. "I really didn't know what I wanted to do when I was younger. I went to school because I thought it was the thing I was supposed to be doing."
When Kramer decided to return to OCC for the spring 2022 semester, he chose the Physical Education and Exercise Science degree program because of his experience training people while in the Air Force. “I learned the capabilities of the human body and the kinesiology side of it. I realized the science side of strength and conditioning really interested me."
His desire to be here and sense of purpose resulted in him becoming an outstanding student and earning a perfect 4.0 grade point average. “I felt like I was where I needed to be in my life. I had this contentment I hadn’t felt before. Applying myself, and following through on goals I had set for myself, and seeing the results of my work pay off just gave me an immense feeling of gratitude for my life and a second chance.”
Kramer's on-campus home is in the Office of Veterans and Military Services on the second floor of Coulter Hall. Because of the outstanding level of service the office provides under the leadership of Steve White, it has been named “Military Friendly” and “Best for Vets” by national organizations. “I wouldn’t be where I am without the office. The resources here are invaluable and make the experience so much better. And you can walk in here and feel like you have a family. I walk in here and every time I see Veterans I’ve never met. It doesn’t matter what branch you are. There's a brotherhood and sisterhood. I'm so glad I came here. I couldn't have picked a better place to start my education pathway."
Next semester Kramer will begin working in the Learning Center, tutoring students in Anatomy and Physiology. He will earn his degree next May and plans to pursue a master's degree. "My dream goal is to work as a physical educator in some capacity with wounded Veterans."
OCC thanks Jason Kramer and all of our Student Veterans for their service to our country.