American Public University System Celebrates 30th Year Providing Education to Military, Veterans
The American Public University System, based in Charles Town, West Virginia, is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. Though the school is based in the state, it serves thousands of active-duty military members, veterans, and family members nationwide.
A higher education organization including American Military University and American Public University, the school system is the 4th largest employer in West Virginia. Its stated purpose is helping active-duty military members and veterans transition back into the workforce, with both schools’ educational programs being completely online.
Larry Parker, the school system’s director of the transportation and logistics program, and the supply chain management program, thinks the school system is uniquely positioned to help this transition.
“The veteran is actually able to take practical experience, application of whatever that they have done, and they can take that into the workforce with additional credentials and be an asset to any organization because they have real-world experience,” said Parker.
Parker is a Marine Corps veteran like much of the rest of the APUS faculty. They use that experience to relate to their student body, knowing what it takes to juggle military life and school, and to make the transition back into civilian life.
AMU graduate Max Aulakh knows this struggle firsthand, but says meeting other students from the same walk of life helped him make that transition. He is now the CEO of his own cybersecurity company that aims to help employ veteran graduates.
“I’ve got an affinity for veterans, being one of them,” said Aulakh. “I think their skills are so transferable. I think I see the opportunity to help them, help myself, more so than any regular enterprise that’s not veteran-driven.”
Although students take classes remotely, Vice President of Military and Veteran Programs John Aldrich says the onset of COVID-19 presented new challenges for many of those who were also on active duty.
“It was a difficult transition because it’s unheard of in the military space for someone to work from home,” said Aldrich. “They’re used to a very regimented schedule... it was the first time that I had ever seen anything like this.”
APUS Provost Vernon Smith agrees with Aldrich. During the pandemic, the school’s administration focused on improving mental health resources for its students.
“It was very tough on a lot of folks, and mental health and wellness were definitely issues that we noticed increased the urgency and frequency during COVID-19,” said Smith. “We were able to get them to the resources they need to be able to deal with that.”
According to a report from LinkedIn, veterans are 37 percent more likely to be underemployed. APUS not only offers military members an accessible education, but also offers virtual career fairs, webinars, and resume-building tutorials for its students, with Smith saying it is the largest provider of education for U.S. military members.
The APUS reported a graduating class of 14,000 members in 2021, with more than 81 percent of its students being active-duty military, veterans, or National Guard.