After high school, Levi Lynch’s first attempt at college ended with him stopping school to regroup. “I did a little firefighting before deciding to go into the infantry of the Army, and that helped me mature and become more disciplined in a way I wasn’t before,” he says.
Levi got stationed at Fort Benning, Georgia, before being deployed to Afghanistan. After he returned stateside, Levi was stationed at Fort Stewart, Georgia, and then deployed to Eastern Africa. He finally returned to the US via Fort Carson in Colorado Springs.
After eight years in the military, Levi was medically retired in 2021 after suffering a traumatic brain injury following multiple concussions while in Afghanistan. He has earned two Purple Heart medals—the oldest military award still presented to American service members.
After the Military
Levi started thinking about his next chapter. His mentor—a 91-year-old retired Colorado State University professor and former US Forest Service employee—encouraged him to check out Front Range Community College. “He felt it would be a great first step as I transitioned from the military, and I agreed,” Levi says.
The idea of one day working for the Forest Service, like his mentor, also appealed to Levi. “In a lot of ways, it sounds similar to my role in the military, and I know I’d like working with the agricultural and conservation process at a federal level.”
Welcomed to College with Open Arms
Levi learned about FRCC’s A.A.S. in forestry technology and knew it was a good fit. He started taking classes at the college’s Larimer Campus in August 2021.
“College is so much better this time around, and I’ve had wonderful experiences with people helping me through it,” he says.
“The FRCC Veterans Club is a huge support for anyone in the veteran community,” he adds. “And the faculty and staff here really seem to understand and respect the needs and minds of veterans. They’ve helped me when I needed it.”
Meeting His Veterans Support Advisor
Charles Crews is the Veterans Support Advisor at FRCC’s Larimer Campus. His advice to military veteran students like Levi is to reach out for help as early as possible.
“Often, veterans are going straight from military life to civilian life and it’s overwhelming for them,” he explains. “There are tremendous resources available to help them, but they don’t always know what they don’t know.”
“We can help veterans figure out their needs and navigate the resources—even if it means referring them to a counselor or to the Veteran Services Office in their county for housing resources and so much more,” Charles adds.
“Veterans aren’t used to asking for help. Here at FRCC, you do not have to tackle these issues alone.”
The enrollment steps for veteran students include applying for U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs education benefits like the Post-9/11 GI Bill and the Montgomery GI Bill Active-Duty program. Learn more here about GI Bill benefits.
Charles says new students get paired with a Pathways Academic Advisor to help them register for classes, plan out their future, navigate student life and explore campus. “If students have a goal in mind or are planning to transfer from FRCC to a four-year college or university, we want to make sure they get on the right path right away,” Crews says.
College is a Lifestyle
Jamal Pearce, the Veteran Services Advisor at FRCC’s Westminster Campus, says that college is an opportunity that will yield great rewards—if students put in their best efforts.
“I encourage veteran students to realize that going to college is a lifestyle,” he says. “I believe students will be successful if they participate in school clubs and utilize school resources. It’s more challenging than high school—but if they put in the effort and time, it’s rewarding as well.”
Based on his experience as a student, Lynch agrees.
“The resources are there for veterans, and I wish more would reach out and take this step to better themselves.”
Plans for the Future
Lynch plans to finish his Associate of Applied Science degree in forestry technology in 2023 and hopefully work with the Forest Service. “I’ll go where I’m needed. I’m excited about this pathway,” he says.
“I would love to work in one of the national parks in the United States, but I’m also open to working internationally as well.” In a few years, he plans to earn a bachelor’s degree at Colorado State University in Forest and Rangeland Stewardship.
Celebrating Veterans Day
November 11 is Veterans Day, a time to honor and thank American veterans of all wars. Originally known as Armistice Day, this national celebration commemorated the ceasing of fighting between the Allied Nations and Germany that went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month—essentially ending World War I.
Armistice Day was renamed Veterans Day in 1954 and is now considered a day to thank those who have served and protected our country in times of war and peace.
Honoring Our Student Veterans at FRCC
At Our Larimer Campus in Fort Collins
Make sure to stop by Longs Peak Student Center this week to pay your respects to fallen soldiers and contribute non-perishable food items to the Veterans Resource Center.
The Veterans Club will also be raising the American flag and sounding the Reveille bugle call on Veterans Day (Thursday). Join them by the Mount Antero Flag Pole at 7 a.m. (Or if you can’t make it then, swing by for the flag lowering ceremony at 5:30 p.m.)
At Our Westminster Campus
At FRCC’s Westminster Campus, the college will be hosting a Veterans Day Luncheon for all veteran students. And here’s a twist you may not expect…
Our student vets also want to continue to serve on Veterans Day—so they’ll be providing a free lunch on Thursday to all students on campus. The meal will run from 11 am to 1 pm by the Student Life Office near the coffee shop, so stop by to get a burrito, learn some fun facts about Veterans Day and get a quick history lesson.
At Our Boulder County Campus
FRCC’s student life staff is making special treat bags for our veteran students that include a lunch pack, some tasty snacks, useful office supplies and other assorted goodies.
Thank a Veteran Today
There are many veteran students at FRCC—in fact, earlier this year, Front Range Community College was awarded designation as a Military Friendly® School. The college is ranked No. 2 in the country in the large community college category, according to the website militaryfriendly.com.
So, this week (or any time), thank one of your fellow students for their military service. And if you know a veteran who is thinking about their next chapter in life, encourage them to explore FRCC and its supportive military community.
We understand that the transition from military to civilian life can be a challenging one. Our staff, faculty and students can help veterans find their path—and get where they want to go next.