Eddie Scales (Staff)
Atop a bookshelf in Eddie Scales’ office at Mississippi State sits a photo of three Marines.
Scales, a sergeant-first class in the Mississippi Army National Guard, served in Iraq alongside those three soldiers, and keeps the photo partly as a reminder of the true cost of war.
“None of those guys made it back,” said Scales, who also serves as outreach coordinator for MSU’s G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery Center for America’s Veterans.
Their memory, Scales added, drives his passion to help veterans on the home front.
While he travels the country recruiting military service members to attend MSU, he also assists the more than 2,000 veterans currently enrolled. Scales successfully helps with the transition from military service to college life, explaining and connecting student veterans to benefits and campus support services.
“I travel a lot to military bases and education fairs, and the reception we get is very good among the veteran community,” Scales said. “Once these guys become students, we stay with them every step of the way, from the time they walk in the door to the time they graduate.”
Some of the veterans he helps have sustained combat injuries or suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. Scales said he uses his own service experiences—and his own combat injuries—to relate to these students.
A Greenwood native, Scales has served 26 years in the National Guard, including active duty tours in Kuwait and Iraq between 2004 and 2010. For his service, he earned a combat action badge among other accolades.
In Iraq, a convoy Scales commanded was bombed, leaving him and others in his company with concussions and burns. Fortunately, everyone survived the attack.
“Thank God we all made it through that safe, but it really came home to me then what I was there for,” he said. “It made me realize what it truly means to be willing to sacrifice my life.”
In addition to his duties at MSU, he serves with a National Guard sustainment unit that facilitates training for other units. He may be out of the line of fire, but he said he is far from off-duty.
“I take pride in being an American, and I don’t take for granted the freedoms we have here,” Scales said. “So anything I can do to keep us safe, or to assist those who keep us safe, I’m there.”