By Heidi Welte:
As everyone is now aware, there was a terrorist attack at Ohio State University on Monday. A lone individual drove his car into a crowd of pedestrians and, upon exiting the vehicle, stabbed several people. He was stopped by a police officer who, coincidentally, was nearby investigating a gas leak. His proximity and heroic actions swiftly put an end to the attack. The terrorist was shot and killed. Investigators are examining the possibility that the attack was inspired by ISIS, and ISIS has taken credit for the attack.
When I was still working on my degree after leaving the Navy, I often pondered what I might do in case of a similar attack or school shooting– not out of paranoia, but out of wanting to be prepared by having a battle plan. I always carry a small, but sharp knife with me for self defense. Thus far, I have only needed it to open stubborn packaging. Hopefully, that remains the case.
Similar to the officer, I would have — without a doubt — tried to protect those around me from harm, no matter the cost to myself. I swore to protect and defend, from all enemies both foreign and domestic, and though I may not be on active duty any longer, I will still do whatever I can to protect those around me from harm.
My mother was concerned, as mothers often are, about my safety when I told her I was joining the Navy. I pointed out the school shootings in recent history, along with general crime often found around college campuses, and told her I was probably safer joining the military. At least in the military, you’re expecting danger to be ever-present. You are taught how to mitigate dangerous conditions and how to fight back. Most importantly, if you get shot at, you have weapons and can usually shoot back.
Few individuals set foot on a college campus expecting danger, especially if the school has a reputation for being safe. That is why sick, opportunistic individuals bent on killing innocent people choose places like colleges. A college is a soft target. They aren’t like military bases, fenced-off, only admitting specifically authorized individuals.
Colleges are chosen because they are easy to attack, because the attackers are cowards who do not want to pick on someone who can fight back.
My campus days are not over. I intend to return to school to get my master’s in history, and continue toward a doctorate to someday become a history professor. No matter where else my studies lead me, I am first a veteran and if ever there are any attacks of this nature when I am in the vicinity, I will be waiting for them, knife in hand, positioned between my classmates or students and their would-be attacker, ready to defend them and fight to the death.
I will not be alone; I know my fellow veterans will have my back.
Heidi Welte is an OpsLens Contributor and U.S. Navy Veteran.