How Jon is Taking His Navy Experience to Live a Life of Purpose

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Jon Harguindeguy ’19 has focused on his artwork for several years as a way to get through hard times. After returning from a four-year service in the U.S. Navy, he returned to civilian life and wanted to provide for his family. In 2017, Jon started attending Loyola Marymount University to take his interest in art and turn it into a way to give back to others by studying art therapy and demonstrating what it means to Live a Life of Purpose.

Jon Harguindeguy, ’19
Major: Studio Arts Drawing and Painting
Hometown: Santa Fe Springs, CA

Jon Harguindeguy disliked school and wanted to pursue tattoo artistry as an alternative, but at the age of eighteen, his father gave him a choice: college or the military. Jon chose the military. In 2004 at the beginning of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, he joined the U.S. Navy as an Aviation Electronics Technician (AT) was assigned to an EA-6B Prowler squadron. Jon said he chose the Navy, “because of the respect he had for his grandfather’s service in the Navy during World War II. He told me many stories from his time in the service and shared pictures with me before I left for Iraq.”

Unknown 300x300 - How Jon is Taking His Navy Experience to Live a Life of PurposeJon worked on navigation, communication, radar and weapons systems for his squadron’s planes as well as on a team that diagnosed and fixed any planes that were gearing up to take off. Jon worked on everything from, “helping to troubleshoot issues on the flight deck and worked on all of the electronics from nose to tail and wing to wing. So, anything that involved radio, navigation and weapon systems.”

Jon has vivid memories of being deployed in Iraq for seven months. “That’s where we got cohesive as a squadron. We were in a war environment. So, everything had to work, and it was a very tough situation. It was a difficult time for me because towards the end of my deployment my grandfather passed away and I was not able to fly home. It was a hard time, and I stayed focused because we had a mission to complete and that’s something I know he instilled in me. He had given me his blessing to go to war before I left for deployment.”

After four years of service, Jon started a family and worked in a machine shop to provide more for his family. Returning to civilian life wasn’t easy for him after suffering from the loss of his dad and dealing with alcoholism, he knew he wanted to turn his life around and used his art to cope. “I’ve been doing art since I was a little kid. Art has always helped me get through stuff. So when I returned home, I just dumped myself back into that. I focused on drawing and sketching to get complete paintings done.”

“I came to LMU in fall 2017 for the Art Therapy program in College of Communication & Fine Arts. I am majoring in Studio Art and minoring in Psychology and Art History.” He has also worked closely with the Veteran Programs office in Student Success. He has said that after he graduates his goal is to

I want to be in a position to help those who need to work out their baggage through art.”

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Jon does a lot to support his veteran community, and over the past five years, he has worked with a nonprofit called Awaken Hearts, where he is the program director for their veteran art program at the Veteran’s Affairs Hospital in Long Beach, CA. “This program is so important for me because I got to go through the program first and afterward asked how I could help with it to support other veterans. I deal with a lot of veterans who are currently in recovery and some who are dealing with PTSD from their service experiences. Having similar experiences helps me better understand what they are going through and how art can help their recovery. My advice to anyone going through hard times or struggling is that there is always help and it’s not beneath you or weakness to ask for help.”

Unknown 3 e1542236747843 225x300 - How Jon is Taking His Navy Experience to Live a Life of PurposeJon also spends his time outside of school focusing on being an excellent father to his daughter Emma. This past year, they focused on doing artwork together to get through Emma’s chemotherapy treatment for a tumor on her kidney. His daughter is currently in remission. “Emma and I draw happy things back and forth to keep things bright and sunny. And I am looking forward to having time as a family.”

Jon also focuses time on his personal art projects. Jon said today he’s working on, “artwork that revolves around happier stuff like what I draw with my daughter to topics like Dia de los Muertos. I’m currently working on a series of artwork to depict how people over time have dealt with the topic of death and how different culture deal with it.”

Jon sums up his experience here at LMU by saying, “I’ve had a great experience here at LMU. I am thankful for the Veteran Programs staff who have been very supportive in my journey as a student. I think it’s important to lead the second half of the generation coming up into an understanding of there’s more to this life than just your education and politics that can consume us and

find your purpose in this life.”

Veteran Programs collaborates with various departments and organizations to create a campus awareness of LMU’s veteran population. This week is Veterans Appreciation Week, LMU wants to honor, celebrate and create awareness of those students and alumni on campus who are also veterans.

Learn more about LMU’s Veteran Programs.