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Honoring Veterans Day: A Kirtland Vet’s Journey.

As Americans, we’ve been honoring veterans since November 1919, when President Wilson commemorated the official end of World War I, saying “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service…”  By Act of Congress, Veterans Day became a legal holiday in 1938, deeming November 11 as “a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and…a day to honor American veterans of all wars.”

This Week @ Kirtland, we’re honoring Kirtland Vets as well and sharing the story of A Kirtland Vet.  We’re sharing new ways in which Kirtland is expanding our commitment to serving our student veterans.  And, we’re asking other members of the Kirtland Family to share their personal vet stories, just as Kirtland’s very own Julie Lavender, Vice President of Instructional Services, is doing this week.

Julie Lavender, Kirtland's Vice President of Instructional Services, shares her "Vet's Journey" story as we prepare to launch our newest blog recognizing Kirtland veterans.

Julie Lavender, Kirtland’s Vice President of Instructional Services, shares her “Vet’s Journey” story as we prepare to launch our newest blog recognizing Kirtland veterans.

A Kirtland Vet’s Journey:  Julie Lavender

Julie Lavender enlisted in the Army after high school because of a desire to serve her country.  Following three years as combat medic, she went through nursing school/ROTC and three more years of active duty as a nurse serving on bases including Ft. Sam Houston (TX) and Ft. Hood (TX).

After her enlisted service, Julie used VA money to pay for college and continued to serve as a reserve officer as part of the Simultaneous Membership Program.  As an Army Nurse she was sent to the Pediatric Nursing Course in Hawaii, helping her to prepare for her NICU nursing certification exam.  As a reservist, Julie reached the rank of Major before resigning her commission.

Julie shares:

Ft. Sam Houston was my favorite.  My favorite job as an Army Nurse was my time in the Neonatal ICU at Brooke Army Medical Center.  We were involved in cutting edge research and high tech care.  It was a stressful environment (especially during Operation Desert Stork after Desert Storm) but the team atmosphere was unmatched in any other job I had.

Lavender's extensive coin collection represents years of service and accomplishment while in the U.S. Army.

Lavender’s extensive coin collection represents years of service and accomplishment while in the U.S. Army.

I once got to fly in a general’s Lear jet to Panama to pick up a sick baby.  The baby was too ill to travel when we arrived so we stayed for three days to stabilize him.  The last evening we were able to go to dinner and had a tour of the Panama Canal region. It was a scary time in Panama (riots all over the city) but beautiful none the less.

I did most of my world travels as a military spouse (my husband served 29 years).  I lived in Germany with my family and we visited Denmark, Belgium, Luxembourg, Netherlands, England, Scotland, France (I’ve been to Paris six times!), Italy, Spain, Tunisia, Sicily, Switzerland, Majorca, Austria, Lichtenstein, Czech Republic , Poland and Korea, where my husband was stationed at the time.

Following her extensive military experience, Julie continued her education earning an MS as a Maternal Child Clinical Nurse Specialist, certification as a Maternal Newborn Nurse, and most recently earned her doctorate degree in E-Learning and Teaching Online.

That’s some story!

So what about you?  Are you a current or former student?  A Kirtland employee?  No matter your role in our Kirtland Family, if you’re a veteran, we would be honored to have your share your story with us as we launch our newest blog:  A Kirtland Vet’s Journey.  For those who have done so much to ensure the freedoms we enjoy, this blog is but a small way for Kirtland to say thank you.  To contribute to our newest blog, A Kirtland Vet’s Journey, please contact, or Veterans Helping Veterans advisor Anne Essmaker at

In addition to our new Vet Blog, remember that we have other tools in place to help our veterans become successful students at Kirtland.  If you haven’t already, make sure to check out our new web page loaded with helpful information, tools and resources at Whether you have admissions or advising questions, financial aid or GI Bill questions, or maybe just looking to connect with fellow vets through Kirtland’s Veterans Helping Veterans student organization, now’s the time to check out Kirtland’s new Veterans page.

“We are dedicated to providing outstanding services to help veterans, service members or eligible family members of veterans to achieve your academic and personal goals,” says Anne Essmaker, staff advisor for Kirtland’s Veterans Helping Veterans organization.  “We understand attending college can be a big transition and we are committed to doing everything we can do to make each veteran’s educational experience a success.”

So, This Week @ Kirtland, take time to remember that freedom isn’t free.  If you enjoy your freedom, thank a vet.  And, if you have A Kirtland Vet’s Journey story, please take the time to share your story with us!

To learn more about Kirtland’s veteran-friendly services, programs, advising, testing, financial aid and other services available to students, contact 989-275-5000, extension 284, or visit us online.  And, as always, you are invited to drop in and check us out at, follow us on Twitter at, and like us on Facebook at

Kirtland.  Be the future.