EKU Passes Milestone with More Than 1,000 Military Veterans, Dependents Enrolled

file photo of veteran

Eastern Kentucky University recently passed another milestone, with more than 1,000 military veterans and their dependents now enrolled.

As more and more troops return from Iraq and Afghanistan, EKU has nearly doubled its number of military veterans and dependents – from 550 just two years ago to 1,018 currently enrolled. EKU’s total enrollment is approximately 16,000 students.

“The new Post 9-11 GI Bill makes college more affordable for veterans and now their dependents,” said Lt. Col. Brett Morris, Ret., associate director for veterans affairs at EKU and interim director of admissions. “Also, career service members can now transfer their education benefit to a spouse or child.”

The last two years, among the nation’s four-year colleges and universities, EKU has earned No. 1 and No. 2 national rankings, respectively, from Military Times EDGE magazine for its commitment to helping military veterans further their education. In 2010, Eastern launched Operation Veteran Success, a series of initiatives designed to make the university even more veteran-helpful.

“With the drawdown … we will see more veterans leaving the service and enter college,” Morris said. “They will be looking for schools that deliver on the promises to help veterans make the transition from combat to college.”

Many of the new veterans are taking advantage of EKU’s expanded online offerings. Approximately 160 of the veterans and dependents are taking online courses, the largest number in the university’s Safety, Security and Emergency Management Program.

Already, Morris noted, 42 new veterans and dependents have been admitted to EKU for the summer semester, and more than 270 for this coming fall. Of the new students expected this fall, 210 are dependents.

EKU was recently 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.

“Having a VA employee on campus will give EKU student veterans a more direct access to the VA instead of them having to travel to the VA in Lexington,” Morris said. “Kim is a vocation rehabilitation specialist, so she has a lot of experience helping veterans transition into new careers and find employment.”

 EKU’s Operation Veteran Success initiatives include:

·         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. (Last year, this course led to the publication by EKU of “The Journal of Military Experience,” a compilation of stories, poetry and artwork by EKU student veterans that earned EKU Program of the Year recognition from the national Student Veterans of America organization.)

·         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.

In addition to the Military Times honors, Eastern was also recognized by G.I. Jobs magazine as a Military Friendly School in 2009, 2010 and 2011 and has been named a  Pat Tillman Military Scholar Partnership University, one of only 14 in the nation.

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 March 16, 2012