Nine days after completing his five-year service with the U.S. Marine Corps, Ian Mcclellan began his first class at CSU.
Less than a year later Mcclellan, who is pursuing a degree in chemistry, serves as the president of the student veteran organization on campus.
As veteranâ€™s week comes to campus with events from Nov. 7 to 12, Mcclellan said the week-long events strive to increase campus awareness and destroy stereotypes.
â€œA lot of misconceptions exist about veterans and military people that weâ€™re hoping to impact throughout the week,â€ Mcclellan said.
Mcclellan, who moved to Colorado with his wife in January 2011, served in the Marine Corps as an aviation electrician from January 2006 until January 2011 and was stationed in Cherry Point, N.C.
â€œI was afraid of not finding a niche to become a part of,â€ he said of the transition from military to veteran life. â€œCollege is a time for people to express their individuality but I came here looking to belong to something.â€
Mcclellan quickly stumbled upon the Student Veteran Organization through the office of Adult Learner and Veteran Services (ALVS) on campus and said he soon realized why CSU is considered a military-friendly university.
â€œIt was reassuring to find a group of people that I could relate to and who had gone through similar experiences,â€ he said.
And by the numbers, CSU ranks within the top 15 percent for military friendliness among colleges and universities across the country, said Jan Rastall, director of the ALVS.
A report released annually by G.I. Jobs, a guide to post-military success, lists CSU as being recognized for its high ranking over the past four consecutive years.
According to Rastall, the report bases its rankings off of degrees offered, availability of classes, student support and financial services offered.
â€œItâ€™s something we really value as well as something that makes us different from other schools,â€ she said. â€œWe are really unique in having a space where veterans can all come together and share their experiences.â€
Through the VetStrong Program (VSP) offered through ALVS, student veterans have the personal and academic support necessary to ensure success, Rastall said. Programs are organized based on a college timeline beginning with transitioning to campus and ending with post-graduation civilian life and workforce plans.
Both Rastallâ€™s father and brother served in branches of the military, giving her motivation to provide services to student veterans.
â€œHere itâ€™s our duty to support students in any way we can and make their transition as smooth as possible,â€ Rastall said.
But for CSU senior Paul Hodge, veteran perceptions and awareness on campus have large room for improvement.
â€œBoth our campus and nation seems unscathed by the conflict of war and most people donâ€™t want to come to terms with the price of freedom,â€ Hodge said.
Hodge, a 32-year-old social work major and former U.S. marine, currently serves as the director of veterans week. After graduating from college in 2002, Hodge enlisted and was deployed to Fallujah, Iraq in 2005.
â€œThis week is about thanking generations who are the very best of our nation and go in harmâ€™s way to not only protect our nation but our way of life,â€ Hodge said.
Hodge sees veteranâ€™s week as being crucial for campus education and to diminish misconceptions.
â€œI canâ€™t accomplish everything but I can make an effort to get our stories heard and put into perspective for students and faculty what veterans have gone through,â€ he said.
For more information on events happening during veterans week or services offered to student veterans go to veterans.colostate.edu.
Collegian writer Allison Knaus can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
This week’s events
Tuesday, Nov. 8:
Diversity day 11 a.m.-1 p.m. LSC, room 228 features a panel of diverse veterans will share their stories.
The movie, â€œHome of the Braveâ€ airs at 7 p.m. in the LSC room 220-2
Wednesday, Nov. 9: Veterans panel 11 a.m.-1 p.m. LSC room 230
The movie, â€œWar Torn 1861-2010â€ will air at 7 p.m. in the LSC room 220-2
Thursday, Nov. 10: Veterans stand down 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Catholic Charities North. This off campus event will bring together veterans of all kind to receive a day of free services in return for their service.
The movie, â€œBattle for Hadithaâ€ will air at 7 p.m. in the LSC room 208
*Friday, Nov. 11: *
National Roll Call 9 a.m.-5 p.m. in the LSC plaza features a synchronized reading of all the names of the Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom causalities and a pause at noon for a simultaneous â€œminute of silence.â€
Veterans reception 7-9 p.m. in the LSC North Ballroom is an invite-only event for student-veterans and veterans throughout the community.
Saturday, Nov. 12:
Veterans day 5k run/walk at the CSU Oval.