MONDAY, MAY 18
A student organization at Oklahoma City University was recently created in order to help military members and veterans get a college education.
The organization is called the Military Affinity Group and is open to active duty military personnel, Reservists, National Guard members and veterans.
Derek Gordon, OCU student and founder of the group, said with an estimated 400,000 U.S. armed service members preparing to rejoin civilian life, it’s a good time for universities to start preparing for many of them to become students.
“It’s more than just a social group where military students can share ideas about their college experience. The main component is the financial aspect,” Gordon said, mentioning that the G.I. Bill the military offers doesn’t completely cover the costs to attend most private universities.
The group’s focus will be to find donors for an endowment fund to help students get an education at OCU after serving their country.
The Department of Veterans Affairs is preparing to deploy the Post-9/11 GI Bill in August, which will pay for tuition and fees at the highest public university rate for each respective state, includes a monthly housing allowance and a books and supplies stipend.
Gordon, who has a four-hour commute to school from his home state of Arkansas, has had success creating such organizations already. He began one at the University of Arkansas that grew from 10 members to more than 100.
The student organization at OCU plans to have its first official meeting in September.
He said having a Military Affinity Group on campus will go a long way in recruiting military students.
“We look at things like that when we’re determining where to go to school,” he said. “OCU is taking steps to getting a ‘Veteran Friendly Campus’ rating, and that could in turn bring a lot of high-quality, dedicated students.”