Back Named Director of Military and Veterans Affairs; EKU Military-Friendly School Again

photo of Allen Back

Lt. Col. Allen Back (USAR) is the new director of The Office of Military and Veterans Affairs at Eastern Kentucky University, which recently was named a Military Friendly School® by Victory Media for the fourth consecutive year.

Back first joined EKU in 2007 as recruiting operations officer the university’s Army ROTC program. He has also served as an adjunct faculty member, teaching a military history course since 2008.

EKU is home to Operation Veteran Success, a series of initiatives designed to make the university even more veteran-helpful, and has earned numerous national honors for its services to veterans, counts more than 1,200 military veterans and dependents among its approximately 16,000 students.

“The campus culture at EKU is very supportive of the sacrifices of our veterans,” Back said. “I have observed this support and genuine sincerity countless times since I first arrived on campus five years ago. EKU offers numerous service-oriented degree programs that are attractive to veterans and their dependents. Those degree programs plus the warm reception our veterans and active and reserve service men and women receive make an indelible first impression as they decide which university is the right fit.”

Many veterans enroll in majors such as criminal justice, police studies, homeland security, fire and safety and nursing, as well as the master’s degree program in safety, security and emergency management.

“With the current downsizing of the active military, the national trend is that the number of veteran enrollments will continue to grow,” Back said. “At EKU, veteran enrollment may reach or even exceed 10 percent of the student population within a year or two.”

Back earned a bachelor’s degree in telecommunications from the University of Kentucky and a master’s degree in human resource development from Villanova University.

The 2013 Military Friendly Schools® list honors the top 15 percent of colleges, universities and trade schools nationwide that are doing the most to embrace America’s military service members, veterans and spouses as students and ensure their success on campus.

"Inclusion on the 2013 list of Military Friendly Schools® shows EKU’s commitment to providing a supportive environment for military students,” said Sean Collins, director for G.I. Jobs and vice president at Victory Media.  

The last two years, among the nation’s four-year colleges and universities, EKU has also earned No. 1 and No. 2 national rankings, respectively, from Military Times EDGE magazine for its commitment to helping military veterans further their education.

Some features of Operation Veteran Success at EKU are:

            ·         No admission fees for undergraduate veterans.

·         In-state tuition for all out-of-state veterans nationwide.

·         Maximum credit hours for military experience.

·         Priority registration.

·         Book vouchers and Books for Boots Exchange Library.

·         Veterans Bridge to College Success cohort classes.

·         Veterans orientation course.

·         Veteran-helpful withdrawal and readmission policy.

·         Vet-2-Vet sponsorship program and active Vets Club.

·         Recreational and other extracurricular activities.

·         Specially designated housing for student veterans.

·         Veteran Studies minor, believed to be the nation’s first, to help those who haven’t served in the military to better understand the issues that veterans face, and to help the veterans themselves deal with those issues.

EKU is home to The Journal of Military Experience, the first volume of which won one of 14 Phi Kappa Phi national literacy grants and “Program of the Year” honors from Student Veterans of America for providing veterans at EKU with a voice in 2011. The second volume, published this year, provides the same service to veterans nationwide and includes the scholarship of researchers interested in bridging the gap between civilian and military cultures.

Also, EKU has been named a VetSuccess University by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and now has a full-time VA employee, Kim Dickey, on staff to help veterans with their benefits issues.

In addition EKU has been named a Pat Tillman Military Scholar Partnership University, one of only 14 in the nation. This year, Eastern senior Andrew Napier was named one of 59 Tillman Military Scholars nationwide. He is using the $9,000 scholarship to finish his EKU studies and prepare for medical school.

For more information about services available to veterans at EKU, contact the university’s Veterans Affairs Office at 859-622-7838 or visit va.eku.edu.

Published on September 18, 2012