An honor for EKU; First lady's visit will highlight its aid to vets

EKU ROTC Cadet Adam Renn saluted during a 2012 Veterans Day ceremony at Eastern Kentucky University,
EKU ROTC Cadet Adam Renn saluted during a 2012 Veterans Day ceremony at Eastern Kentucky University,

Caps and gowns will replace fancy Derby-wear and rain ponchos when the nation's eyes turn toward Kentucky again this Saturday as first lady Michelle Obama delivers a commencement address at Eastern Kentucky University.

EKU can be proud that it earned this moment in the spotlight by serving veterans.

The White House said Mrs. Obama asked to make Eastern one of her three graduation stops this spring because of its "outstanding record supporting veterans and military families."

Eastern's commitment to military service and veterans dates to World War II.

More than 1,275 vets and their dependents are now enrolled at EKU, where they can take advantage of the Veterans Success Center, a one-stop shop for services ranging from job placement to full-time advising and counseling.

EKU earned the Military Times' "Best for Vets" honor in 2013 as well as a spot on G.I. Jobs magazine's list of "Military Friendly Schools."

Just this week, U.S. News & World Report named Eastern the best online graduate education program for veterans.

Supporting military families has been one of the first lady's causes. The administration's Joining Forces initiative two years ago challenged the private sector to hire 100,000 vets, a goal that has been almost tripled. Late last month, Mrs. Obama announced a new five-year goal of 435,000 jobs for vets.

Unemployment among post-9/11 veterans decreased in April to 7.5 percent from 9.2 percent in March, although some observers caution that the dramatic drop might be statistically suspect because of an extraordinary decrease in unemployment among women vets.

This nation asked deep sacrifices from the servicemen and women who served multiple deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. We owe them and their families a chance at rewarding civilian lives.

Thanks to Eastern for stepping up to that challenge.