CWU News

CWU student panel to discuss transitioning from military to college life

Central Washington University is experiencing phenomenal growth in the number of veterans taking university classes after they leave military service.

The number, in fact, is up by more than 20 percent in the past four years and has increased 30 percent since 2012. In all, more than 600 active-duty, National Guard, reservist, and retired military personnel, along with their family members, are working to earn degrees through Central.
Four veterans will share their personal experiences about transitioning from active duty to civilian life during a special Student Veteran Panel on Thursday, November 10, at 4:00 p.m. in the Student Union and Recreation Center Pit.

The event takes place as part of the university’s Red Week, which is now through November 10, on the Ellensburg campus.
“Other organizations and institutions have a ‘Red Friday’ to show support for and raise awareness about veteran’ issues,” said Ruben Cardenas, director of the CWU Veterans Center, which is helping to sponsor the panel presentation.

“With Veterans Day coming up on Friday, a couple of our students proposed a Red Week, including the veterans’ discussion panel, to provide the campus and local communities with a better idea of what our student veterans are going through as they transition out of the military. It’s a student-led initiative,” Cardenas said.

Some veterans begin their college careers suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injuries, or other physical ailments and symptoms that can make just getting to class a chore itself.
“For some of them, it can be hard just to get up every day,” noted Cardenas, himself a military veteran. “It shows that many of these students are very resilient in that they are having to fight just to go about their days in as positive a manner as they can.”
Along with the panel presentation, the observance will include the distribution of commemorative t-shirts in the SURC throughout Red Week, along with information pertaining to the composition of the nation’s student-veteran population, 80 percent of whom are 25 years old and older.
“Twenty-seven percent of student veterans are women and 46 percent have children,” Cardenas added, who will moderate the discussion involving four CWU student veterans.

“Anyone is going to say they support veterans,” Cardenas added. “But, I think, if you really support veterans you are going to try to make an effort to understand—and empathize with—what they’re going through on a daily basis. That’s really what the panel is about, to provide some additional understanding. This is not really intended for [an audience of] veterans.”
The panel presentation comes on the one-year anniversary of Central being named, for a second time, as among the Partners for Veterans Supportive Campuses by the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs.

Cake and light refreshments will also be served at the event, in honor of the United States Marine Corps, which was established on November 10, 1775. The panel is sponsored by the Veterans Center in conjunction with Brother 2 Brother, the CWU Psychology Club, and MEChA (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán).
“We continuously make an effort to raise veteran awareness and educate our campus and the local community about veterans’ issues,” Cardenas said. “That comes along with our label of being a Veterans Supportive Campus. We want to continue to do programs like this so that our campus will be supportive of veterans, so that they will succeed and can get their degrees while they’re here.”
CWU, which offers the lowest annual tuition of all state universities in Washington, also actively assists veterans process their education benefits.
Media contact: Robert Lowery, director of radio services and integrated communications, 509-963-1487,
November 9, 2016