Path Home Shows 2014 Show Archive November 2014 Show 1445 Transition from Soldier to Student

Transition from Soldier to Student

Military veterans head back to school in hopes of gaining the skills for their final fight – getting jobs.
Transition from Soldier to Student

Transition from Soldier to Student

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Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education

Oklahoma Military Connection

Show Details

Show 1445: Transition from Soldier to Student
Air Date: November 9, 2014



Rob McClendon: Hello, everyone. Thanks for joining us here on “Horizon.” Well, America’s military is expected to discharge up to 1 million service members over the next several years. And many of these young men and women are heading back to school in hopes of gaining the skills for their final fight of getting a job. Joining me now from the campus of Oklahoma State University is our Courtney Maye.

Courtney Maye: Rob, just imagine you are an older returning veteran on a college campus, surrounded by other younger students whose biggest worry so far in life has been did they turn in their last homework assignment or when is the next party. And it’s that dynamic that many returning soldiers face when returning to a college campus and also have been witness to things on the battlefield that their fellow students would never understand.

Courtney Maye: Moving from the life-and-death decisions on the battlefield to the peacefulness of a college campus can be a difficult transition for returning student and veteran Ryan Moehle.

Ryan Moehle: In the military, you are trained to kill. I mean you’re, you’re, as we say in our unit, you’re trained to kill and break stuff, you know, and that’s true. We come back, and we have to transition into this civilian population. We have to be functioning members of society.

Courtney: Moehle is a veteran benefit specialist at Oklahoma State University and helps other veterans go from soldier to student.

Moehle: I came out of the service, and I was still in school. I needed a job full-time, and so this just seemed like a natural fit to be able to help these veterans.

Andrew Schofield: They’ve definitely helped my transition from going from an Air Force member to a student.

Courtney: Andrew Schofield is a senior majoring in natural resource ecology and says bonds that he has formed with other veteran students is rewarding.

Schofield: It’s one of the things I like to do the most because, you know, it gives me the connection that I kind of desire to have. And I was in their shoes too so it really makes me, uh, you know, it’s fulfilling to me.

Courtney: And while the transition can be difficult, veteran and student Josh Baker says OSU makes it easier because they are surrounded by people who know what they are going through.

Josh Baker: I think a lot of veterans will appreciate having someone that’s familiar with, you know, what they’ve been dealing with the last four or eight or however many years they were in the service. And being able to help, you know, help them navigate the system to get everything that they’ve earned through their service.

Courtney: Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb.

Todd Lamb: Time and time again Oklahoma soldiers have answered the call – National Guard, Air Force, Marines, Army, etc., etc., Navy – they’ve answered the call.

Courtney: Paula Barnes has worked with OSU veteran services for 30 years, and she says it’s because she loves serving the people who have given her our country.

Paula Barnes: I love seeing students complete their goals and their dreams. And I particularly love to see it with our nation’s veterans; they mean a lot to me. They’ve given so much, and to be able to be a part of that life for them, to help them get where they need to be and to continue on with the things, having served our country, that’s, that’s why I do what I do.

Courtney: And student veteran Billy Kingfisher says Barnes’ work ethic and desire to help the veteran students is greatly appreciated.

Billy Kingfisher: I benefit a lot from veteran services. Part of it was I only had one classmate who was a veteran over my program. So being able to kind of shoot the breeze with these guys and kind of learn from their experiences and so forth.

Barnes: We will be their champion, we will fight for them and the things that they need, and we have done that in the past, and we will continue to do that.

Rob: Now, Courtney, the GI Bill has long helped veterans make the transition from soldier to student without the burden of worrying about their finances. Courtney, my question is this: What qualifications do these veterans that you met have to meet to receive the benefits?

Courtney: Well, if you have at least 90 days of active duty service after Sept. 10, 2001, or are currently on active duty or you are an honorably discharged veteran, then you may be eligible for these Veterans Affairs-administered program.​

Rob: All right. Thank you so much, Courtney.

Courtney: You’re welcome, Rob.

Rob: When we return, we look at how some veterans are fast-tracking their way back into the workforce.