Ken O’Connell joined Saint Michael’s College in the summer of 2016 as the new coordinator of Student Veterans Services to help veterans acquire the tools for fulfilling futures by connecting them with an education.
A veteran himself, O’Connell served as a communications specialist in the Army with a posting in Germany where he won commendation for notable achievement during NATO operations with the 43rd Air Defense Artillery and acquired useful technical skills.
After leaving the Army in 1988, O’Connell attended classes at CCV before entering the elementary education program at UVM. The Essex resident has had productive turns as a first-grade teacher and school enrichment coordinator and photographer.
Now O’Connell hopes to use his experience as a returning soldier to help other veterans looking to making the transition to college.
“One thing I’m finding by talking to folks here and the new veterans I’m meeting is that trust is often really hard – it made me remember when I got out, and how you feel almost alone – you’re thinking, ‘I had all these supports in the military, and now what?,’” O’Connell said.
In his first few months with Saint Michael’s, O’Connell has been networking beyond campus and helping with relocation of the Student Veterans Services office to Klein Hall, where he’ll work alongside Career Services and other offices that he considers to be natural partners in helping veterans. He also has reached out to local veteran organizations and plans to expand the College’s presence at nearby Camp Johnson and offer “military awareness training” for faculty and staff in coordination with the VA.