(Marla Marrs)

By Seth Littrell

Eastern was recently ranked the second most vet-friendly college in the country in an article by the Military Times EDGE magazine.

EDGE’s “Best for Vets: Colleges” issue annually gives rankings to hundreds of schools across the country based on how friendly they are to incoming veterans as students.

This year, Eastern gave up the number one spot to Concord University of West Virginia.

“I think it’s great,” said Ryan Donahue, 26, criminal justice major from Louisville and president of EKU VETS. “I mean, twice in a row we’re among the top. It definitely says something about what we do, how we run things here.”

Matthew Rawlings, 29, assets protection and security major from Frankfort and vice president of EKU VETS, said Eastern not taking the number one spot isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

“I think it also shows that because of how close it was between number one and number two, how schools across the country are starting to take a little more initiative to try to become more vet-friendly,” Rawlings said. “I think overall, for the greater good, it’s pretty good. No one likes being second, but it’s something like this where we’re still one of the top colleges for vets. I think that’s a pretty big accomplishment still.”

There were two factors that gave Concord an edge in the rankings, according to EDGE. The first was that active military members can receive up to $250 per credit hour, which is more than the university charges, greatly reducing the costs of school for veterans. The other factor is the school’s Veterans Upward Bound program, which gives extra benefits to first-generation veterans.

“I think one thing that did definitely help them was the under $250 credit hour rate,” Donahue said.

Eastern beat Concord in one category, though: academic help, getting four stars to Concord’s three. Donahue said that ranking is a testament to how involved the faculty at Eastern are in accepting and working with veterans.

Eastern has been in the top three of EDGE’s list for the past three years. Donahue said the ranking has been a major factor in drawing veterans to the school. Last year’s veteran enrollment was 600, with approximately 100 graduating, Donahue said. This year the number of enrolled veterans is approximately 900.

Ryan Rozeboom, 30, paramedicine major from Lexington and U.S. Navy veteran, said Eastern’s high ranking was what initially caused him to consider the school.

“It had a lot to do with the literature, of course,” Rozeboom said. “I was looking at each and every institution’s website, their banner pages and everything, and EKU stood out the most because one of their accolades was best for vets. I was looking at a lot of colleges, and Eastern was the one that stood out the most and was closest to home. This is the best fit for me.”