FAIRBORN — Wright State University’s pioneering programs for military veterans won the attention and a visit from Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who is trying to make it easier for veterans returning home with valuable military experience to get college credit and professional licenses.
Kasich shared his proposals to help veterans with about 100 university and elected officials, students and community leaders during a stop at the Student Union on March 21.
Kasich has proposed that veterans earn free college credit at Ohio public universities based on their military training and experience, be given priority status for course registration and be able to get professional licenses from dozens of state regulatory agencies without a lot of red tape.
“If you can drive a truck from Kabul to Khandahar, you ought to be able to drive a truck from Dayton to Cleveland without having to go get a CDO (certification) and go through a lot of rigamarole,” the governor said.
Kasich applauded Wright State and its accomplishments.
“You are on the rise; there is no question about it. You have developed programs of excellence,” the governor said. “For the faculty, your great president—who is an innovator and a great thinker—and to all of the folks who are students here at Wright State, congratulations. You’ve done a great job.”
Wright State President David R. Hopkins told the audience that the governor has challenged higher education to focus on creating jobs and educating and employing Ohioans.
“And nothing could be more important to us—and I know to him—that we do that for more than 900,000 veterans who call Ohio home,” Hopkins said.
Seth Gordon, Ph.D., director of Wright State’s Veteran and Military Center, said the governor’s visit to Wright State during the early stages of the center’s growth is a powerful show of support. The center’s mission is to help veterans reach their academic, personal and professional goals.
“This is another opportunity for Wright State to take a leadership role in showing how to offer cutting-edge programs and services to veteran students,” said Larry James, Ph.D., the university’s associate vice president for military affairs.
Wright State awards educational credits for military training and experience; has courses designed specifically for veteran and military students; provides career services that best express military experience; and helps veterans connect with other students through campus events and student clubs.
About 6 percent of Wright State’s 18,000 students are military veterans or are connected to the military. For five consecutive years, Wright State has been named a Top Military-Friendly University by Military Advanced Education and included on the G.I. Jobs Military Friendly Schools list.
Student veteran Leslie Kemper said the center has helped her with benefits, connected her with other veterans and really listened to her and to what she needs. She said she has urged veterans in other states to come to Wright State.
“The bottom line is I’m very happy as a student veteran here on this campus,” Kemper said. “We’re all working toward vets being successful.”
Tyler Thompson, who is pursuing his bachelor degree in rehabilitation services at Wright State, served in the Army as a tank commander and gunner for more than six years and did tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He works at the Wright State center as a Mission Continues Fellow, helping engage post-9/11 veterans and plans on working with veterans in the mental health field following graduation.
“I feel that with my experience and my educational knowledge that I can help our veterans recover when they return home,” Thompson said.
Story by Jim Hannah, Wright State University.