Vets Jeremy Cox and Ernie Braden are often found in the Veterans Affairs office in the SSB. (Stephanie Smith)

By Stephanie Smith

Eastern has been recognized throughout the country by many different publications, from Forbes Magazine to US News & World Report. Now, the university can add Military Times Edge to that list. The magazine recently gave Eastern the top spot on its “Best for Vets: Colleges 2010” list.Eastern was chosen as the top school for veterans to attend on a criterion of financial assistance, academic flexibility, campus culture and support services.

“A lot of schools talk about how ‘veteran friendly’ they are,” Brett Morris, a retired lieutenant colonel, said. “We don’t want to just be friendly here, we want to be helpful.”

Eastern stood out to the magazine mostly because of its Veterans Affairs office and the EKU Vets club, Ernie Braden, a junior aviation major and veteran from Wolfe County, said. Braden, who is the events coordinator for EKU Vets, said the veterans club, which was founded last year, meets monthly and can often be found hanging out in the “Vets Lounge” in the Veteran Affairs office in SSB.

EKU Vets often hold various support seminars and events for veterans and supporters, Braden said.

There are also several intramural teams on campus geared towards veterans, including football team Tactical Patriots.

“It’s the little stuff,” David Waggoner, member of EKU Vets and freshman English major, said, adding that the veterans-only orientation and other special cohort classes Eastern offers were especially helpful in his transition from field to classroom.

“Veterans have common problems that your normal 18-year-old, fresh out of high school doesn’t have,” Waggoner said.

Aside from clubs and veteran-specific classes, Eastern is helpful in the admissions process. Veterans 25 and older are unconditionally accepted to the university regardless of past transcripts. In addition, they are not required to take the ACT, only placement tests to determine where they stand and if developmental classes are needed, Morris said.

Other perks include a waived application fee, waived parking permit fee, reduced tuition rates for all out-of-state veterans, computers and free printing in the Vets Lounge and academic credit for boot camp and other services performed while in the military.

“I was quite aware from the first time I walked in that [the school] was going to be very veteran friendly, but I didn’t know they would be this helpful,” Waggoner said.

The magazine, which is a common read among thousands of veterans, gave Eastern 4 1/2 stars in financial assistance, five in academic flexibility, 3 1/2 in campus culture and 4 1/2 in support services.

Morris said he believes that the article will bring Eastern to the attention of veterans across the country that are looking to go back to college. He also said the widely recognized College of Justice & Safety programs are of particular interest to veterans.

“[Veterans] already have the drive and discipline, they just need the opportunity,” Morris said.