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Three veteran students walk together outside the Oakland Center on O U's campus

Veterans Stories

Few individuals have the relentless drive it takes to say they are a United States military veteran. But for those who can, many have found a new home right here at Oakland University. Because if there is one thing that a United States military veteran and a Golden Grizzly have in common, it’s that they never quit.

I joined the army right out of high school. I was seventeen when I graduated. Went into the army in July of 2002 and it was only a few months after 9/11.

When I was in Iraq I had the chance to drive around the country. I was seeing the way people lived. In the cities or out in the middle of the desert. But just opening my eyes to seeing the way different people live their lives kinda gave me a path to move forward after that. I wanted to find a place where I could learn about societies and where I could learn someway to kinda give back.

In that time that I was transitioning from living overseas to the US and then finally back to Michigan and at OU, Mike was always there and really shedding light on the unique transition veterans face.

You go from having somebody tell you when to wake up, what to do, how to think and then all of a sudden you’re your own person again. And then jumping into college where there’s a new set of expectations.So we kinda step in and help bridge that gap and kinda point them in the right direction but not hold their hand along the way.

Veterans Support Services offers academic resources, programs and career networking opportunities. Our office is completely manned by veterans who are current or former students. We’ve been in the veterans shoes. We know what they’re going through especially through the transition. And we’re there to maintain that comradery that they, that the veteran had and the service member had while they were in the service.

I went to Oakland and when I got involved with that veterans community, I became best friends with a new set of brothers and sisters. That sense of community that we built, it’s one of the best things that I took away from my whole experience.

So my job now, is I’m a school councilor with kids that are figuring out life too and I’m just trying to take some of the perspective that I gained, going all the way back from my military experience and my experience at OU and it kinda made me wanna help people and learn some things about different ways to live that we could bring to our own society.


Check out the veterans' stories below to get a taste of what it’s like to be a veteran and a Golden Grizzly.

Courtney Smith

United States Navy - 2016-2020

Courtney served 5 years active duty in the United States Navy as a hospital corpsman.
She was stationed in San Antonio, Texas for A school training where she learned the job
of a hospital corpsman then moved to Jacksonville, Florida where she worked in several
hospital units such as Pre-operations and Post- operations, Urology and Family medicine.
On top of being a corpsman she also was a part of the Honor Guard and rendered military
honors at sporting events and funerals for veterans and active-duty personnel. She also
provided field medical coverage for the Marines on many occasions and states “if I had to
do everything over, I would still make the same decision to join the navy and become a

Courtney separated from the United States Navy in the beginning of 2020 and moved
back home to Michigan. She enrolled in classes at OU in the winter of 2022. Courtney says
“I chose Oakland University because the school has great resources for veterans and is
close to where I live which makes the commute easy.” Courtney states, “I chose to major
in CDS Spec Pre- Clinical Professions because being a corpsman opened my eyes to patient
care beyond nursing. After working as a corpsman, I wanted to push myself to go to
medical school to maintain the skills I had acquired while serving in the Navy.”

The Veteran Support Service’s office helped to ensure a smooth transition back into
civilian life and schooling for Courtney. “Veteran Support Services has made my transition
into being a student again wonderful. Everyone is more than willing to help and assist
with anything you need. They have made many resources available to me that I did not
realize existed and it has been nothing but a great experience. 

Troy Byrd

USMC Reservist

I grew up in Pontiac Michigan.  I attended Pontiac schools and graduated in 2021.  Growing up I wanted to be a Navy Seal and became fascinated with America’s military history. I soon grew out of that and never saw myself ever joining the military. 

The summer before college I did not know what I wanted to do with my life; but I needed to find something fast and high paying, right? Well after extensive research I decided I’d become a pilot. Well that was cool, but flight school is expensive. So I’d join the Air Force and learn to fly planes. I went to an area recruiting office and sat down with the Air Force. Everything sounded great, and I was ready to move forward with enlisting. But wait, the Marines posters kind of looked cool and inspiring, what about them? The next thing I knew I was walking into the Marine Corps office and sitting down for a chat.

That chat led me to become a Poolee at the recruiting station, which got my foot in the door to join.   I was able to attend Oakland University in the Wade H. McCree Incentive Scholarship Program.  After my first semester I realized college wasn’t keeping me accountable in the ways I was looking for in life; therefore, I accepted the challenge and  shipped off to Marine Corps Basic Training (boot camp) after my first semester of college. I graduated a Private First Class with the job of a supply administration specialist.  After returning from training, I resumed attending OU in pursuit of my Bachelor’s in Human Resource Development  while simultaneously pursuing my career with the Reserves.

Now I am about two and a half years in the Reserves and a Corporal of Marines.  The Marine Corps has provided so many opportunities to learn and grow that I wouldn’t have experienced if  I didn’t join.  I am in the process of finishing up my junior year at OU, and will be going to Officer Candidate School where I plan on commissioning after I graduate. I have been blessed to have met many new people and experienced so many different aspects of life. I have been to new states such as Indiana and Kentucky through the Reserves, as well as having the opportunity to train with Green Beret’s. I am excited to see what difference I can make as a Marine Corps Officer while  also enjoying this journey we call life.

Aaron Jackson


Aaron served in the military for 6 years in active service as a Chinook helicopter mechanic in the United States Army. He was stationed in Fort Jackson in South Carolina and later Fort Eustis in Virginia for training.  When Aaron graduated from training, he received orders to Ansbach, Germany. On Aaron’s off time he would go rock climbing to explore the country. He improved over the 2 years that he was stationed there and would attend the pre-Olympic qualification for the first-ever sport climbing event of the Olympic games.

After Germany, he was stationed at Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, Georgia. From there he would undergo extensive cross-training in the field with other aircraft to prepare alongside his unit to deploy in 2017 to Afghanistan. While in a combat zone that was under constant mortar indirect fire, he attended class by walking an extra hour to access a computer at the USO. After his return, he would attend the Noncommissioned-Officer Academy and later be promoted to sergeant. Before leaving the military he trained and completed a full marathon. 

When Aaron was planning to leave the military, he was searching for different avenues to pursue a Business career. He took classes at Oakland Community College while working to earn his Associate's degree.  Aaron decided to earn his Bachelor’s degree at Oakland University because of the amazing community of other veterans that attend. He spent a lot of his time during the first semester at the Veterans Support Services office to study and hang out with other veterans. Since starting at OU he has been more involved with the VSS community and works there part time helping other student veterans.

Olivia Armstrong

Air National Guard: 2019 - Present

Security Forces Defender

Olivia enlisted in the Air National Guard in 2019, while she was a senior in high school. Once she graduated in May of 2020 she was sent to BMT in August of the same year at Lackland AFB in San Antonio, TX. After she completed BMT, she then went to tech school to become a Security Forces Defender. When she graduated tech school in January of 2021, she flew back home to Michigan where she was stationed at Selfridge ANGB. Ever since then she has been serving the state of Michigan as a valuable member. She has been all over the world because of the military, from Canada to Germany, while furthering her education at Oakland. 

Olivia always knew she wanted to go to college to gain more knowledge. She chose Oakland University because of its location which was close to Selfridge and her hometown of Bay City. Furthermore, she knew OU had a prestigious business program and began her journey to getting her Bachelor of Science in Operations Management with a specialization in Supply Chain. She is still currently earning her degree and will graduate in May of 2025. 

Olivia has enjoyed every minute of being in the Air National Guard. It has allowed her to live the military life alongside being a civilian and pursuing higher education. The reason she joined the military in the first place was because her best friend had just joined the Army. Olivia knew she didn’t want to regret not joining the military when she was older so she took a leap of faith. Her aunt and uncle had both served previously in the Air National Guard, as Security Forces Defenders as well, and she knew she would enjoy being grandfathered into the same unit. 

Currently, Olivia works in the VSS and CLDC offices as a liaison, helping student veterans transition from their military life to being a college student. She helps members find their perfect jobs and update their resumes to snag that employer’s attention. If you need help updating your resume or cover letter, or even finding an internship or job that fits you, contact Olivia at [email protected]

Jordan Morrow

United States Army

Jordan knew he wanted to join the Army and have the opportunity to travel the world and experience what life in the military is like.   Therefore, he made the choice at 17 to leave the traditional high school setting and complete his junior and senior years online in just 8 months.  This allowed him to enlist in February 2019, a month after his 18th birthday.

Jordan chose the Army as it afforded the best schooling and opportunities.  Jordan was excited to get stationed in South Korea for 15 months, as he was hoping for a country in Asia to try new food and experience the culture.  He was most impressed at how modern their technology is and how clean the country is.  Jordan also went on a rotation for 9 months to Poland and Germany.  Again, he was excited to try new foods!  As a bonus, he was able to learn the history of WWII from the European perspective. 

Jordan fulfilled his active duty service and got out in June 2022 with his sites set on receiving his Bachelor's degree.  He chose Oakland University because it was close to home in Lake Orion and started his academic career in fall 2022.  Jordan is majoring in Human Resources Development (HRD) and works for the Veterans Support Services department.

Veterans Support Services

Vandenberg Hall, Room 112
502 Meadow Brook Road
Rochester, MI 48309-4454
(location map)
(248) 370-2010

Office Hours:
M-F: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Veteran Certification

(248) 370-4010
(248) 370-4584 (fax)
[email protected]