Heroes Among Us: Tabora Temple

Updated: May. 30, 2019 at 11:24 AM EDT
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VALDOSTA, Ga. (WALB) - Each month, WALB and Montlick and Associates spotlight an active duty man or woman, a veteran, or a fallen hero whose service for our country goes beyond the battleground.

"I loved it. I loved every minute of it," said Tabora Temple of the 24 years she spent in the U.S. Air Force.

That included her multiple deployments during wartime.

“I was in Kuwait at the start of Iraqi freedom,” she explained. “I helped set up one of the first morgues. It sounds morbid, but hey, that’s a way of life. That’s war.”

However, it's her time right after she retired that she draws on to help others now.

"I was in their shoes," the veteran said. "When I retired, no one would hire me. I have two master's degrees, and no one would give me the chance."

But Wiregrass Georgia Technical College did.

Temple now works as the military and veteran services coordinator for Wiregrass Georgia Technical College.

"A lot of our veterans are broken," she said of those getting out of the military.

In her four years at WGTC, she has encountered many veterans struggling to go back to life as a civilian.

One student is Rardrekous Latson.

"You don't know what you want to do, you're just lost in life," Latson said. "I was really, really depressed. Didn't have anybody to talk to."

The lack of structure and the lack of the closeness of a military environment can prove tough and bring up struggles with mental health.

Temple said she has talked with several students in a similar situation.

"When you have someone that says, 'you know, Tabora, I was going to kill myself last night.' That slams you. You're thinking, what would make that person get so low to where they felt they were just going to give it all up?" Temple said.

So, she's making it a little easier.

With a lounge and a quiet room where vets can decompress whenever need be, she has worked to make Wiregrass Tech a place veterans can call home.

It's all in hopes of helping address those mental health issues.

"My job is to show them that you do matter," she explained.

Temple said the college has boosted its number of veteran students the past several years.

It now sees more than 200 enrolled in a typical semester.

Now, she loves what she does, once again, and Wiregrass students can attest to her potentially life-saving efforts.

“To me, she takes it personal, instead of saying, ‘Well, I’m going to follow the protocol.’ She goes over and beyond to help the person,” said Harry Thompson, a veteran and student.

“People don’t know, I really get down sometimes,” Latson said. “But then I come up here and my spirits are lifted, because of the environment. It’s like home. This is a family.”

“We have all these tools that most people aren’t ready for, but we’re ready. All I can say is just give veterans a chance,” said Temple.

If you know a special military hero you want to nominate, click here.

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