Madison Living - Kentucky Winter 2018 - Page 14

The Fallen Soldiers Memorial at Eastern Kentucky University was added in 2017 to bring awareness to the global issue of rising suicide rates among veterans. The memorial is a traditional upside-down rifle, boots and helmet enclosed in an open steel sphere with dog tags hung inside the sphere. From page 13 military instructor after he received the opportunity to start a junior ROTC program at George Rogers Clark High School in Clark County that began in 2005. “I really enjoyed working with the high school because I really just felt like I could affect their moral center,” Morris said. When the federal government passed the post 9/11 G.I. Bill, EKU was looking for someone to start an office of military and veteran affairs, and so, Morris became associate director in February 2010. After 18 months as associate director, Morris created Operation Veteran Success, which aims to effectively help veterans return to college, EKU specifically. The program has resources that help veterans, such as early registration for classes, helping them to get their 14 Madison Living WINTER 2018 benefits, and transfer articulation credits that allow veterans to use basic training hours to transfer over into general education credit hour requirements. “My mantra was I don’t want to be veteran-friendly,” Morris said. “Everyone was talking about, ‘oh we’re a veteran-friendly school,’ I said, ‘I can be friendly all day long and not help you do anything. I want to be veteran- helpful.’ That was my real goal to put programs in place that would help our veterans actually achieve their goals.” One year later, with Morris at the head of the Office of Military and Veterans Affairs, EKU was voted number one for ‘Best for Vets’ school in the nation by the Military Times Edge annual survey. This was the first time the magazine surveyed nationally. Morris said several things done while he was head of ROTC more than a decade ago were factored into the survey. Some of these include the halftime tribute during football games, doing the oath of office during commencement ceremonies and the Veterans Memorial that was built in 2002. “A lot of the things we did during ROTC played well into the survey because we were already doing a lot of things to help veterans,” Morris said. After several years as associate director of military and veteran affairs, Morris was asked to take over the position of interim director of admissions which he did until 2014, when he was asked by President Michael Benson to be the executive director for enrollment management, a position he still holds today. “We are very fortunate to have Brett (Morris) with us because he understands what veterans have been through and what they need,” Benson said. “Our mascot is the Colonels, and we are lucky that we have two Kentucky Colonels on our staff, Brett Morris and Gene Palka.”