McConnell Salutes EKU in Senate Speech Honoring Military Veterans

Mitch McConnell photo

In a speech on the U.S. Senate floor today that honored the nation’s military veterans, U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell also saluted Eastern Kentucky University’s efforts on behalf of veterans.

The Senate Republican leader from Kentucky, speaking on the eve of Veterans Day, said toward the conclusion of his tribute to the nation’s servicemen and women that he also wanted to recognize EKU “for all that school has done on behalf of Kentucky’s veterans.”

Noting that Eastern has been honored by Military Times EDGE magazine each of the past two years as one of the top two universities in the nation for doing the most to embrace veterans seeking a college education, McConnell commended the university’s “concerted effort … to make the institution more hospitable to America’s brave veterans.”

In 2010, EKU unveiled Operation Veteran Success, a series of initiatives designed to make Eastern an even more veteran-helpful campus. Those 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. (Earlier this 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.)

·         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

“EKU’s commitment to better educate our nation’s heroes has by all accounts been a big success,” McConnell said on the Senate floor. “In addition to receiving national recognition from the veterans’ community, the university has seen its veteran population grow by some 40 percent in the last year. So today, on the eve of Veterans Day, I wish to honor Eastern Kentucky University for its dedication to better serving our country’s brave veterans, and to congratulate the university and President Doug Whitlock on this well-deserved recognition.”

Beginning with the Spring 2012 semester, EKU will also offer what is believed to be the nation’s only Veteran Studies minor. The new academic program has a two-fold purpose: 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.

Among its approximately 16,500-plus students, EKU now counts 910 military veterans, up from 658 last fall. More than 100 veterans graduated this past academic year, and more than 300 veterans enrolled at Eastern for the first time this fall. Approximately 50 percent of the veterans at EKU have transferred from another educational institution.

Eastern was also recognized by G.I. Jobs magazine as a Military Friendly School in 2009, 2010 and again this year.

Also, following the 10th anniversary of September 11 tragedy, EKU has initiated a nationwide grass-roots effort to honor American service men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq and Afghanistan during the past decade. On Veterans Day, Friday, Nov. 11, campus and community volunteers at approximately 170 college and universities in all 50 states across the nation, including EKU, will read the names of the 6,200-plus casualties of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OEF), now called Operation New Dawn.

Each campus participating in Remembrance Day National Roll Call will organize its own reading of names and will observe a simultaneous nationwide minute of silence at 11 a.m. PST (2 p.m. at EKU). A ceremony will begin at EKU at 1:30 p.m EST.

The Remembrance Day National Roll Call is sponsored nationally by the Veterans Knowledge Community of NASPA Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education.

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

Published on November 10, 2011