That experience has made returning vets "near and dear to my heart," he said.
"Not everybody comes home with PTSD, but some of us are doing alright and we just need a bit of guidance," Varney said. "We've been gone for a while and we need help to put us in touch with services that are available."
Varney hopes to provide such help to local vets tonight at Truckee Meadows Community College. Five panelists will speak to former military members who need resources and support to readjust to civilian life, particularly in going back to college to start or finish their education.
"Hopefully, it's going to be comprehensive from a logistical point of view of getting registered and getting with their veteran liaisons to make you know how to access your GI funds (for tuition)," Varney said.
Three panelists to speak tonight include a representative from the Veterans Upward Bound program, TMCC history professor and Vietnam veteran Bill Baines, and Reno Vet Center team leader Scott Drew. Varney said he will also try to get two veterans who come to the forum to speak.
Caleb Cage, also a vet from Iraq and the author of "The Gods of Diyala," which recounts his experiences, will also be at the forum to offer his comments on the therapeutic experience of conveying a soldier's thoughts on paper, Varney said.
The forum is meant to provide support for those who haven't experienced a normal American life for several years.
"The media, no offense, has a tendency to want to portray us as the poor victims of the war in Iraq and I understand why they do that," Varney said. "But that's not an accurate picture of veterans as a whole."
Varney, a sergeant who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, has reacclimated himself at home through outdoor activities. He's been a whitewater river guide, a rockclimber, kayaker and bike rider. Engaging himself in these sports has served as his own therapy, he said.
The forum takes place from 6:30 to 8 p.m. tonight in the Sierra 108 Auditorium at TMCC's Dandini campus.
For additional information, contact Neil Siegel at 674-7608 or Varney at 343-2953 or firstname.lastname@example.org.