Transitioning from the service to the classroom

UW-Whitewater helping veterans return from active duty

CREATED Nov. 12, 2012 - UPDATED: Nov. 12, 2012

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  • Jesse Ritka reports Video by wtmj.com

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WHITEWATER- When a veteran returns home, it can be hard to make the transition back into the classroom, but there is a team at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater ready to help do just that.

"Military skills can only get you so far in a civilian job market, education gets you even further," UW-Whitewater Academic Advisory Annie Weberpal explains to TODAY'S TMJ4's Jesse Ritka.  A veteran who served six and half years herself, Weberpal knows.  But she's using her experience to help other veterans return to school, while working on a graduate degree at the same time.

Even World War II veteran Clifford Witte stresses how important continuing education is after military service, "I think it's a very necessary thing, course we never had any of that in WWII, we just got home and went about our business."

But for veterans like Nicholas Nahnsen, college was the only base he wanted to call home after returning from service in August.  "I felt I could give more to the community by getting a higher education, I already had the tools given to me by the military and I just wanted to give back to the community," Nahnsen says.

But making that transition from the service to school isn't an easy one Nahnsen explains, "It was quite a whirlwind."

So advisors like Weberpal are lending a helping hand.  "The short term goal is just readjusting back to civilian life; it can be a culture shock.  It's a journey just to come back to civilian life and reacclimate yourself to what that's like.  Long term goals really are employment, education, things that a lot of people are looking for."

Veterans Services at UW-Whitewater has several resources for servicemen and women to make a smooth transition from active duty to being an active member of the student body.

Weberpal says they are there to help, "Take control of their education, giving them the tools, who to talk to, where to go, where they need to be so that they can be successful as college students."

And Nahnsen is taking them up on their offer, "They help us veterans, I can't tell you how many papers I haven't seen and haven't filled out that they have filled out for us and made the transition way easier."

A transition that UW-Whitewater believes will make all the difference.  "We've earned these benefits and to use them increases income, increases success later in life, it's just important to get that education," stresses Weberpal.

"The military definitely set me up for success, I don't quit until the job is done," says Nahnsen.  His new job as a student may take a few more years to complete with a double major and double minor in his sights but he feels up to the challenge.