UK deemed ‘military friendly’

By Amelia Orwick

UK has been designated a “Military Friendly School” by G.I. Jobs, a magazine for members of the military making the transition back into civilian life.

This is the third year in a row that UK has been on the list, which was compiled after the research and survey of more than 8,000 colleges and universities across the nation.

Anthony Dotson, coordinator of the Veteran’s Resource Center at UK, said he has three primary missions.

“We want to help veterans transfer into a university environment from a military environment, help make them successful while they’re here and help them transition out and gain employment,” Dotson said.

Dotson is excited to see the center’s hard work pay off.

“This is our third year running for this title, and it’s a great testament to UK’s policies and procedures that they have in place for veterans,” Dotson said. “What that means to folks looking at that, is that UK does recognize veterans and their needs.”

Although there is the occasional retiree, the average veteran at UK is about 24 years old and has served one term in the military, Dotson said. Every branch of the military is represented.

Tyler Gayheart is a 27-year-old graduate student in the Instructional System Design program. He spent half a year in Afghanistan as a marine under Operation Enduring Freedom.

Along with another student, Gayheart helped establish the student organization, which led to the founding of the Veteran’s Resource Center.

Since its launch, veterans say their experiences at UK have improved.

“It’s not that we didn’t have any services on campus before,” Gayheart said, “but now there’s that much more effort and there’s a defined role in helping vets, and it’s a positive one. All the offices on campus have a keen eye for helping vets, and it’s great.”

Gayheart is on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, which provides full tuition to the institution with the highest tuition in the state, which, in Kentucky, is UK.

UK offers additional services to make the transition from military life to civilian life as smooth as possible. Not only is the admission fee waived and military credit accepted, but UK offers a version of UK 101 designed specifically for veterans and deals with issues they may face.

UK is one of a small handful of schools that offer veteran student housing.

The combination of help from the resource center and experience gained during military service is helping veterans reach their full potential at UK.

“I feel like the military really prepared me for college because I have a lot of the discipline that it takes to buckle down and study,” political science junior and Navy veteran Joshua Hoke said. “The military also helped me grow up and mature, so I relate a lot better to my professors and peers.”

Dotson is pleased with the fact that veterans enjoy their experiences at UK so much that this reputation has developed.

“When a veteran walks in the door and says they’ve been referred by another veteran, that’s when you know you’re doing something right,” Dotson said.