From the battlefield to the classroom: Colorado vets making transition to college

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DENVER -- As the Afghanistan war draws to an end over the next two years, tens of thousands of soldiers will be returning home to start a new chapter.  And for many, that means going to college.

Now, a Colorado campus is rolling out the red carpet to welcome those service members coming home from war.  At the University of Colorado – Denver, hundreds of veterans have already made the transition to the classroom.

Students like William Glenn.  Just a couple years ago, he was a Marine, serving in Afghanistan, about to face the uncomfortable transition to civilian life.  Glenn is one of the 24,000 student veterans in the state of Colorado.  Many of them thrust into campus life fresh from the battlefield, as they try to figure out what to do with their post-military life.

Cameron Cook can relate.

“I felt alone when I was going through it, you know it was a real challenge getting re-used to society and then learning how to be a student,” Cook told FOX 31 Denver.

A Marine Corps veteran himself, he had no one to help with the college transition. Now, he heads up Veteran Student Services at C.U. – Denver… an entire department, solely focused on helping soldiers become students.

“It's camaraderie, community, which is something you severely miss when you leave the military,” Cook said.

Veteran Student Services focused on a few things: helping students transition out of the military, helping them with classes, helping them stay in school, and then find jobs when they graduate.

William Glenn is hardly the only student to benefit from this program.  When Veteran Student Services first started assisting veterans on campus three years ago, there were about 300 student veterans involved.  That number's tripled, and they think it'll explode even more with the influx of soldiers returning from Afghanistan.

“There would have nobody I could relate to, nobody would know what I'm going through,” Glenn told FOX 31 Denver.

He can't begin to explain how much the group has helped him create a new life for himself.  And while he says going to college is still tough, his life is a whole lot easier now, than it was in the military.

“Marines, you're probably gonna get up around ‘0500’, ‘0600,’ run a couple miles.  College?  I get up around 10!” Glenn joked.

There are veteran student services organizations at schools across the state, and in fact, later this month, the Student Veterans of America are having a summit for its Colorado chapters to brainstorm better ways to ease soldiers into the classroom, once they come home from war.

To learn more about the Veteran Student Services program at the University of Colorado – Denver, click here: