OVArts Welcomes Zach Tome


Then - 19 September 2013,

It’s hard to say now why I joined at the time. I don’t remember what was going through my head when I signed those papers. I remember that everyone I knew seemed to have a plan but me. It was very lonely and depressing to realize that I had no idea what I was doing after high school or how to get help.

Did I join to defend the country? Did I join because I was a true patriot at heart? To give something back? I might have given you those answers at some point along the line after I went to MEPS, but I think the real reason and the best explanation is that I was scared. I wanted people to look at a guy with a plan, not someone who was going to graduate and work at the dollar store down the street. I found that scenario the most terrifying.

If I had to do everything again from boot camp to my situation right now, I wouldn’t change a damn thing. I might not have known why I joined to begin with, but when it’s all said and done, and the dust is settling (like it is right now even as I write this) I learned lessons that no one else will ever get the chance to. I learned first and foremost that nothing is given. You have to work and fight to keep what you want.


Now - 14 February 2019,

Hey everyone, my name’s Zach Tome. I wrote that previous statement for a college Letter of Intent six years ago, toward the end of my enlistment. I feel it spells out the bottom line as to my feelings and gives you an idea of the questioning process I’ve engaged in as a writer and what I learned from it.

I’m going to be writing the blog for Operation Valor Arts so here’s a little bit about me. I’m aMarine Corps Veteran. I served from June of 2009 to April of 2014 and was stationed in Camp Lejeune North Carolina. I was attached to 2d Radio Battalion as a Signals Intelligence Analyst. I deployed toAfghanistan in July of 2011 and returned in January of 2012. Since my departure from the service I’ve been going to school, working, or unemployed.

I went to the University of Massachusetts in Boston for a few years while working towards a computer science degree. That wasn’t really for me; things happened, and I ended up back home in the beginning of 2017. I was unemployed for a little while and living with my parents until I got a job in my hometown at a plastic molding shop called Sterling Technologies. I saved up and went back to school in the fall of 2018 to continue my degree at Pitt as an English major with a focus in journalism.

The aim for this blog will be to inform Veterans and create a space for innovation in the arts with respect to those of us who have served. We’ll talk about issues we face and experiences we’ve had. Sometimes they will be lighthearted and nostalgic, other times they will be serious but necessary and informational.

Moving forward we’ll discuss all topics art and entertainment with segments on Veteran tattoos, updates to the military’s tattoo policies and the poor bastards who now have to adhere to them. We will take a look at some of the best Veteran acclaimed books, movies and TV shows, and keep you posted on the local Pittsburgh Art scene and how Veterans are contributing to it. Content is not limited. We can talk Penguins, Steelers and Pirates. You want it? You just let me know and we’ll figure out the fine print when we cross that bridge.

Thanks for reading.


Allyson Holtz