Vet Stories: Robert Morris University Vet Stories | Robert Morris University

Vet Stories

At Robert Morris University, we're thankful for our veterans and the sacrifices they have made. That's why veterans study free at RMU.

Josh Caskey Joshua Caskey
Josh Caskey completed two tours in Iraq before returning State side and applying to Robert Morris University. While enrolled in the School of Education and Social Sciences, he was introduced to the RMU Iraq/Afghanistan Veterans Project (IAVP), an oral history project in which students record interviews with veterans, archiving their experiences of America's recent wars.

“It’s important to us to document our brothers’ and sisters’ experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan. A typical oral history project doesn’t have participants from the event it documents actively engaged in the project,” said Caskey, 34, of West View, Pa.

Caskey's hard work with the IAVP, as well as making Dean's list every semester, led him to receive the university's highest undergraduate award, the Presidential Transformational Award.The award is given annually at commencement to a graduating senior who has been transformed by their experience at RMU and, through their leadership, community service, and academic achievements has transformed RMU.

Caskey earned his bachelor's in history in May 2016 and is currently enrolled in RMU's master's degree program for instructional leadership. His He plans to be a social studies teacher and ultimately a school principal. He spent 12 years as a Marine, and he is the recipient of the Purple Heart for wounds he suffered in Iraq. He received a Combat Action Ribbon, four Good Conduct Medals, and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with “V” for Valor.

Silas Watkins Silas Watkins
Being a college student while serving your country can be a challenge. 

Senior Airman Silas Watkins knows all about it.

A sport management major who plays defense on RMU's inline hockey team, Silas has had to stretch out his studies a couple extra years because of deployments with the Air Force Reserve.

But the lessons he's learned will last a lifetime. Silas worked with pilots flying missions over Iraq. He helped build a school and a hospital in a poor village in Panama. He worked in Dover, helping prepare the remains of soldiers who have made the ultimate sacrifice so that they could be returned to their loved ones.

It has made him appreciate his own opportunities even more.

"I think about a lot of people my age who have not been able to do anything close to what I've done. So I try to be thankful for that," Silas said.

Alec Chebatoris Alec Chebatoris

A trained combat engineer in the Army Reserve, Alec is currently leading a team that's in charge of training the Afghan National Army (ANA) on route clearance. But his long journey to Afghanistan began back when he was at RMU.

When he was a freshman, his company was sent away for two weeks for training. When he got back to Robert Morris, Alec's biology professor let him postpone taking a test until he had time to catch up on homework. Then there was the extra effort that RMU's veterans office put in to make sure he got his full veteran's education benefits reimbursement for his classes.

Through his current deployment, Alec is learning a lot about the Afghani culture and way of life. "Some of them know decent English," he says, "which is very impressive, because many of them don't even know how to write their own name. The ones that know some English are teaching me their native tongue of Dari."

It is still a war zone, however, as Alec was reminded this April 4, when he was close enough to hear the blast that killed three Ohio National Guardsmen. "Those guys are on the same FOB [forward operating base] as me. So it was a very somber day and brought more realization that we are still at war."

Even though he's currently deployed, Alec is still focusing on his future and has been keeping in contact with the HR rep at a worldwide environmental engineering and consulting company with offices in Pittsburgh. "I gave them my resume and they said that they'll have an interview waiting for me when I get back home," he says. "So I'm really excited about that."

Jason Miller Jason Miller
While his classmates were reading about history, Staff Sgt. Jason Miller was making it. Now he's teaching it.

Jason was a junior at RMU when his reserve unit, the 25th Marine Regiment, 3rd Battalion, shipped to Iraq. So he asked his advisor – he calls her an "angel" – about keeping up his studies while serving his country.

"If I didn't have that woman, I’d still probably be a junior," Jason said.

So in between mortar battles and foot patrols in Al Anbar province, when Kilo Company had some quiet time, Jason hit the books and e-mailed his professors. He finished two psychology courses and a seminar overseas.

"My professors were very understanding," he said. "If I had something else going on they'd say, 'You know what, don't worry about this deadline.'"

Today Jason's doing what he always wanted. He's a history teacher, a track coach and a senior class sponsor.

Robert Morris University understands veterans. We're flexible, and we'll help you succeed and find the job of your dreams.

Chris Clark Chris Clark
Staff Sgt. Chris Clark is a peculiar kind of accounting student: the kind who likes to hurl himself out of airplanes.

Chris, a senior accounting major at RMU, livened up his four years of active duty in the 82nd Airborne's finance office by earning his wings with 22 jumps.

While he's had a couple close calls with trees and electric fences, Chris was relieved to discover that enrolling at RMU was a low-stress activity. The university counted his military training and other classes for 18 credit hours.

"I didn't think it'd be that much, but it was. That's one less semester I have to take classes before I graduate," Chris said.

At Robert Morris University, we understand veterans need a university to be a little bit flexible. Our admissions specialists will make sure you get credit for the non-traditional learning you've absorbed, whether it's running payroll for 15,000 enlisted personnel or doing a rapid descent from 1,000 feet.

Kacy McCoy Kacy McCoy
Kacy McCoy is following in her brother's Sam's footsteps at RMU, thanks to their father's service as a U.S. Marine.

Both of the McCoy children received dependent benefits through veterans educational benefits. Sam graduated last year with a teaching degree from RMU, and now Kacy is a sophomore studying Web development.

After a year of studying media arts, Kacy switched majors to take advantage of RMU's excellent School of Computer Information Systems. She's also taking accounting and marketing.

"They require you to take different courses, and I like that," Kacy said. "It gives you broader knowledge, and maybe a foot up in the job market."

Spouses and dependents who qualify for tuition benefits under the post 9/11 veteran's education benefits may also study free at RMU.

Rob Tallon Rob Tallon
Rob Tallon wasn't a college guy. He thought he had learned all he needed to know as a Navy Machinist 1st Class, working in the engine room of nuclear submarines.

When he got out after 20 years, Rob took a job as an engineer at an electrical power plant.

But his knees started to ache from climbing on the big machines. He decided to get some computer skills so he could work for the plant's cybersecurity team.

"Originally I was thinking about an online program. Fortunately, my case manager at the VA talked me into a bricks-and-mortar university, and I'm glad she did," Rob said.

Now he has one more semester at RMU before he earns his bachelor's degree in information systems. Then he's looking at the university's master of science in information security and assurance.

"I've looked at some other schools around the area, and the master's program I want is available at RMU and not too many others," he said.

Guess Rob got the college bug after all.

You'll be surprised at what you can learn here too.

Bob Dinnen Bob Dinnen
Since its founding 90 years ago, Robert Morris University has always put a premium on career-focused education.

Bob Dinnen maximized that benefit. A bachelor's degree from RMU helped the former Army helicopter pilot get a job as comptroller of military traffic command.

Over the course of his 20-year career — with postings stateside, in Europe, and in Asia — Bob also became a CPA, taught as a military science professor in Illinois, and got a PhD and MBA too.

Then he came back to RMU, where in 2003 Bob earned a doctorate in information systems. That, he said, made it possible for him to direct a complete overhaul of technology resources at Fort Cherry School District, where he is superintendent.

"Whether you're an undergraduate or a graduate, Robert Morris University has a small feel even though it's grown. Professors give individual attention to every one of the students," Bob said.

Look over our 60 undergraduate degree programs and 20 graduate programs. We think you'll find something to stimulate your own career prospects.