U.S. military involvement has ended in Iraq and is ratcheting
down in Afghanistan. Now, as veterans return to the United States,
they are ready to continue their education.
Colleges and universities in Oklahoma are participating in the
Yellow Ribbon program, which allows veterans from across the country
to attend schools here at a tuition rate lower than that for
traditional out-of-state students.
In many cases, veterans attend these schools at no charge.
Oklahoma has reciprocity agreements with some states allowing
veterans to attend its institutions for the same tuition they would
pay in their home states, but the Yellow Ribbon program can provide
for veterans not covered by those agreements.
Yellow Ribbon makes attending college affordable for veterans
through the Post-9/11 GI Bill's Chapter 33 educational benefits,
which can apply to up to four years of enrollment as much as 15
years after discharge, said Jennifer Trimmer, veterans student
services coordinator for the University of Oklahoma in Norman.
Policies are in place at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater
to enroll these nontraditional students and support them through
graduation, said Paula Barnes, assistant registrar at OSU.
"Veteran students and their dependents receive the same services
as all our nontraditional students," Barnes said. "The veterans
benefit services office is dedicated to accurate and timely
processing of Department of Veterans Affairs' education benefit
paperwork to assist these students in meeting the financial
obligations of university attendance."
Veterans are a special group of people, said Paula Page,
associate registrar and veteran's coordinator at Northeastern State
University in Tahlequah.
"These men and women of the military, as well as their
dependents, bring many positive assets and insights with them," Page
said. "They are an outstanding inclusion which benefits our other
students and our faculty and staff as well."
'They study hard'
Geoffrey Allen of Tulsa is a political science major at the
University of Tulsa working on a bachelor of arts degree with a
minor in philosophy. Allen, a 1987 graduate of Nathan Hale High
School in Tulsa, served in the U.S. Army in the first Iraq war 22
years ago - what was then called Desert Storm and Desert Shield. He
left the Army at the rank of Specialist D-4.
Allen is enrolled in a program called "Troops to Teachers" at TU.
It is been invaluable, Allen said. He worked in the private
sector after exiting the military, but was laid off about 18 months
ago. That was when he decided to return to school for a second
"It takes vets with technical skills or a college degree and puts
them in a classroom," Allen said. "I've always had a strong sense of
giving back and this allows me to do that. It is a great honor being
able to attend TU with taxpayer assistance."
Allen will walk across the stage in May for his degree. He wants
to be teaching in a high school or middle school this fall.
Allen is one of 86 veterans attending TU through the various
programs, said Cindy Watts, TU associate registrar.
"The number of veterans at TU has gone up 72 percent since the
new GI Bill was passed," Watts said. "Prior to that, there maybe
The types of degrees the veterans pursue are across the board,
she said, including law, computer science and the university's Cyber
Corps, Watts said. The Cyber Corps is a program that trains computer
experts to be the first line of defense against cyber-attacks on
information systems across the U.S. Most Cyber Corps graduates find
jobs within the federal government, many in the National Security
Agency, CIA or Department of Defense.
A key difference between vets and the traditional students is
maturity and sense of purpose, said Roger N. Blais, TU provost and
vice president for academic affairs.
"They know what they want to do; they are focused," he said. …