The importance of veterans

Dec 162009
Authors: Jan Rastall

CSU has a new, important office on campus that will facilitate the academic success of adult learners and student veterans.

Student veterans are a population of college students who have unique life experience. We believe this unique experience enriches the campus culture for everyone.

Citizens who have served our country in the military before they come to college have seen the world through different eyes. They possibly have seen a fellow soldier give his or her life for their country.

They possibly have suffered a personal injury from artillery fire or explosives. They have felt the duty to protect our country knowing that they have put their own life at risk in order to do so.

When they arrive at CSU, they have a dream to get a quality education that will provide them with the skills to continue to contribute to society and the world in another meaningful way. The Adult Learner and Veteran Services office provides an array of educational programs and services to support student veterans throughout their academic journey.

Our office is staffed with an Assistant Director for Veteran Services who served in the Army during Operation Desert Storm and is earning a graduate degree in counseling psychology.

Her background and personal experience in the military, as well as educational training in therapeutic practices, ensures that students have a contact at CSU who can ease their transition to campus life, help them get connected with other critical resources on and off-campus and help them network with other student veterans.

The office also employs two student veteran work-study staff members. One served in the Navy and the other served as a Marine in Operation Iraqi Freedom, and they are working toward degrees in civil engineering and mechanical engineering respectively. They serve as peer mentors and can answer questions and provide information from a student perspective.

Last spring, our office was instrumental in getting the first chapter of Student Veterans of America in the state started at CSU. We also wrote and received a $100,000 grant from the American Council on Education/Wal-Mart Foundation Success for Veterans. This grant is allowing our office to create the first Veterans National Honor Society for Institutions of Higher Education in the country.

S.A.L.U.T.E. stands for service, academics, leadership, unity, tribute and excellence; these traits encompass some of the characteristics of student veterans striving for a post-secondary degree.

The honor society office is staffed by a student veteran who served in the Navy, and who is working toward a degree in criminal sociology.

This year, Adult Learner and Veteran Services is planning important events to recognize student veterans on Veterans Day this Wednesday.

We’re coordinating a student panel of military women to share their experiences at the Women at Noon program from noon to 1 p.m. in Room 214 of the Lory Student Center. There will be dollar hot dogs on the main plaza of the LSC to help raise money for the Student Veterans of America/CSU Chapter Student Organization.

And we will have a panel with John Kefalas, B.J. Nikkel, a representative from Congresswoman Markey’s office, William Doe, associate dean in the Warner College of Natural Resources and coordinator of the Veterans Green Jobs initiative and Christy Jacks, the president of Student Veterans of America/CSU Chapter.

For more information about our office, please call 970-491-3977 or send an e-mail to

Jan Rastall, M.Ed., is the director of Adult Learner and Veteran Services at CSU. Letters and feedback can be sent to

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