Brandon Krapf, SIS/BA '14, didn't come to AU as a traditional student when he transferred in 2007. He had enlisted in the Army right out of high school in 2000, and after his service, used his G.I. Bill to obtain his bachelor's degree from the School of International Service. Upon his arrival at AU, Brandon noticed one stark difference between himself and the other students: he was seemingly the only student veteran on campus. Luckily, he didn't have to wait long before he met another Army vet, Murat Aykut, SIS/BA '09, during his first semester.
Alumnus and veteran Jacob Myers, SIS/BA '10, shares a similar story: "Transferring from a regimental lifestyle to a "traditional" college lifestyle was challenging for me. Finding individuals on campus who understood this responsibility was limited as many of my peers never found themselves in situations where obligations pull you away to fulfill military commitments."
One year later, Brandon and Murat decided AU needed an organization for student veterans. That same year, Student Veterans of America launched around the country. Inspired after attending SVA's nascent national conference, Brandon and Murat began locating vets and ROTC members on campus to band together. AU Vets was officially born and became a formal campus group in spring 2009. Jacob met Brandon during his final semester at AU and he, like many other student veterans, was eager to hear about the future of the organization.
By summer 2009, the G.I. Bill was gaining national attention and more and more veterans were enrolling in school or going back to complete their degrees. AU Vets had tripled in size and students were now interested in career guidance and advice on life as an alumni veteran. Through inquiries from interested students and alumni, the AU Veterans Alumni Network was created as a way to continue resources for veterans after graduation. "The AU Vets, and AU Vets Alumni Network, endeavor is arguably my greatest passion having shown up in 2007 as a vet. My sole mission with both organizations has been to ensure no veteran comes to AU and experiences what I first experienced when I arrived seven years ago," Brandon says.
The AU Veteran Alumni Network has two goals: to continue to connect with area veterans groups such as Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion, and Student Veterans of America, and to create engagements and events where AU Vets Alumni can connect in-person and also network with students to provide the "alumni network" as a resource to vets currently in school. In honor of Veteran's Day, the student and alumni attended the Washington Wizards vs. Orlando Magic game on Saturday, November 14 in DC. "The military community is already a small, but strong network, and this is but another outlet our student veterans can use to reach out to past students who once shared the same AU experiences and guidance for what is next," Jacob says.