In his State of the Union, the president talked about pulling troops out of Afghanistan. Once they're done serving, many in the military want to go back to school. But how do they re-enter the academic world after everything they've seen and experienced during their service? Arizona State University is trying to tackle that question.
ASU opened up the Pat Tillman Veterans Center in August 2011. It's a space where they can study, meet other veterans and learn about the resources available to them. ASU said it's working and increasing the number of veterans who stay in school.
"I knew I wanted to go help out and the Marine Corps was chosen because my dad was a Marine," said JT Lain. After four years in the Marines, Lain said he wanted to go back to school. But he knew going from combat to college wouldn't be easy.
"Really, I just kind of forgot how to be a student," he said. While JT said the military taught him discipline and organization, he missed the camaraderie of the service.
"It's a little hard sometimes when you've got 18-year-olds around you talking about how a 21-year-old person is old and I'm 25," Lain said.
To make things a little easier, Lain goes to the Pat Tillman Veterans Center. Nestled in the Memorial Union, veteran students can do homework, hang out or get a nudge in the right direction.
"They go from an environment where they're told what to do 24 hours a day, 7 days a week," said Capt. Steve Borden, who is the director of the center. He said by offering a support system, they're helping veterans stay in school. In fact, in 2011, when the Tillman Center first opened, about 63 percent of first-time veteran freshman stayed in school. A year later, that number rose to nearly 93 percent.
"They know what success is about," Borden said. "What we need to do is put the right tools in their hands so they can succeed in this new environment."
"This sounds kind of corny but I'm just really glad this place is here, it really is a great benefit," lain said.
To learn more about the Pat Tillman Veterans Center, go to https://students.asu.edu/military.
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