Student veterans face unique challenges

By: Ian Margol Email
By: Ian Margol Email

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. Many of our veterans enlisted straight out of high school, choosing a life of service early on.

For these men and women, college life doesn't come until after they've finished their duty, giving many the unique challenge of being a veteran and a student when they return home.

Andrew Keck was an Army combat engineer and squad leader from 2001 to 2007, stationed in North Carolina, Iraq and Afghanistan.

When he got out of the army he jumped at the first paying job opportunity that came his way and worked in the oil fields, but while the job provided a transition between soldier and civilian life, he wanted more.

"I became a student in 2009 after doing some other work and realizing the only way to move up was to go to school," says Keck.

But it wasn't so easy, especially at first.

"I had a very hard time finding other veterans to get connected to figure out how things were done," he says.

When several of his friends founded the CMU chapter of the Student Veterans Association, Keck quickly got involved.

"When you come up with a problem, the answers are there, someone else in that group has gone through that."

The group is dedicated to providing resources and support for veterans in college and post-graduation. It also gives an outlet for them to meet other veterans and helps deal with the VA.

And now Keck says, with the help of the SVA and the support of friends and family, he's well on his way to achieving his goals.

"As a vet, I want to see things through to the end, I don't fail, there's no reason for that, so I just want to come in, throw everything I've got into what I'm doing and move on to the next challenge."

Keck was just accepted into the CMU Nursing School and plans to become an Emergency Room nurse in the future.

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