Initiative helps veterans at UNC-Charlotte

by: Alexa Ashwell Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - There’s a new initiative to help veterans at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

The initiative will include the construction of a new Veterans Information Portal website, webinars and a new graduate assistantship program, all developed to assist and guide veterans through the higher education process. 

Nathan Lambert is one of more than 800 veterans who attend UNCC.

Lambert, 29, grew up about 1 1/2 hours from Charlotte in Ashboro. He joined the U.S. Army the day after he graduated high school and faced similar struggles many veterans do when readjusting to civilian life.

“I did a combat tour in Iraq and a combat tour in Afghanistan,” said Lambert. “When you get out of the military, it’s easy to get lost.”

UNCC is helping the veteran find his way.

Lambert was just accepted into the university’s graduate engineering program.

He hopes to one day develop defense equipment the military will use in combat situations.

“A lot of things that work when you’re in a calm and non-pressured environment won’t work when you’re getting shot at,” said Lambert. “A lot of engineers don’t know that. They’ve not actually been in that situation. For example, when your adrenaline is going, you may not be able to operate a specific type of switch.”

Lambert hopes to fulfill his dream with the help of UNCC’s new Graduate Assistantship Program for veterans, which includes free tuition and a stipend. He’s one of about 12 veterans who applied.

UNCC Professor Alan Freitag is spearheading the project, which he stressed is simply one part of a new, larger initiative to help veterans achieve in higher education.

“It’s the right thing to do,” Freitag, who is also a veteran and served in the U.S. Air Force, said. “Veterans will be doing work, research and assisting professors within the field of study they’ve chosen.”

Freitag said he understands both the challenges and rewards of pursing higher education after separation from the military.

“Charlotte is going to be the model community for the United States in establishing this program,” Freitag said. “We want to provide information and resources to veterans. This includes everything, from housing, financing and budgeting, higher education, health and medical needs.”

Freitag said he will be announcing the recipients of the assistantship on April 15.

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