Veterans at the University
If it was up to Director of Military and Veteran Outreach Ken Coleman, there would be at least one veteran enrolled in each class at the University of Redlands.
“The veterans think outside the box, and when they are told to do something, they get it done. Those who haven’t been in the military benefit, and the veterans benefit as well from working with the other high-quality students. It’s a win-win situation,” he said.
Thanks to Coleman's efforts and those of Veterans Affairs Specialist Cheryl Kleeman, the number of veterans at the University continues to rise annually, with about 300 currently enrolled. Both are in new positions created to help students transitioning from military to student life, and ensure that veterans understand the benefits for which they are eligible as students. Coleman visits military bases and veteran organizations to share what the University has to offer, and Kleeman works out of the Registrar’s Office, meeting with students, certifying documents, and launching the new Student Veteran Organization.
“It is open to all service members and family interested in supporting our students,” she said. “It’s a way to offer peer support, and is just like any typical student organization.”
The University of Redlands is an approved Yellow Ribbon School with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Coleman and Kleeman both have also served our country—Coleman in the United States Air Force and Kleeman in the United States Coast Guard.
“It really helps to have veterans in these positions,” Coleman said. “Many schools don’t, and it’s unfortunate because many veterans feel more comfortable talking to other vets. This is a big step showing that we are military-friendly, and doing something that is not all about enrollment, but recognizing and making a comfortable environment for people who have done incredible things in their life.”
As someone who served during the Vietnam War, Coleman said he understands how hard it can be for veterans to return home and then enroll in school.
“In my experience, we had the same problem; we came home and didn’t feel welcome, so I dropped out of school,” he said. “My family got me back in, but some don’t have that. We are looking to make sure we cast the net wide enough to make sure that people who should take advantage of the opportunity to go back to school do, so they can continue to serve their country by applying these new skills they will learn.”
According to Coleman, Redlands is a “special type of educational institution,” which is why it’s perfect for veterans.
“It’s not for people who want to be pampered, it’s for people who want to get an education and become a better person in the end,” he said. “It’s not a degree program, it’s an education. You’re different, you deserve more, and we give you more.”
Posted: June 6, 2013
Written by: Catherine Garcia