OSA President speaks on transitioning from Marine Corps to UWO


Katie Pulvermacher / The Advance-Titan– Daniel McKearn speaks on his experience as a student-veteran and the transition into college life.

Katie Pulvermacher, Managing/News Editor

Oshkosh Student Association (OSA) President Daniel McKearn spoke on his experiences transitioning into college as a student-veteran at a Nov. 10 UW System Board of Regents meeting in Madison. 

“[I’m] very appreciative of the opportunity to tell my story of transition from military life to that of a student at University of Wisconsin Oshkosh and my continued duties in the United States Marine Corps Reserves,” McKearn said. “For so long, veterans across America have done so much for our great nation, and some have paid the ultimate sacrifice.”

McKearn was featured as a panelist alongside UWO Veterans Resource Coordinator Aaron Kloss, UW-Madison Director of University Veteran Services Joe Rasmussen and United States Army Veteran and UW-Parkside student Jennifer Staton.

“Every veteran has an opportunity and a unique experience,” McKearn said.  

He joined the Marine Corps right out of high school. He said the transition was difficult at first. 

“It was not an easy adjustment to go from my civilian life quickly into that of military structure and discipline,” McKearn said. “It’s a lot of uncertainty, but I quickly have a sense of community in what I’m doing.”

After his training, he had a week off and decided to go to UWO.

“I quickly understood how difficult it was to transition from structure and all of this discipline to a campus where ‘oh, students don’t have their shirts tucked in and they’re wearing flip flops to class. What is this?’ This is a lot different than what I’m used to,” McKearn said. 

Rasmussen said student-veterans tend to enroll within weeks of separating from active duty.

“They show up to campus during a time of major life transition,” Rasmussen said. “While all students adjust to campus life, veterans are learning a new sense of self and identity. They move across the country or from overseas and have to refine study skills and habits after years of being out of the traditional classroom setting.”

McKearn said the Veterans Resource Center (VRC) at UWO has been a huge outlet for himself and should be for others, too.

“[Shifting from the Marine Corps] was a time of immense transition where I felt unknown again in a new place, similar to when I first joined the Marine Corps in boot camp,” McKearn said. “The VRC was opened to me with welcoming arms..”

Kloss said university veteran service offices often keep student-veterans afloat and provide them the guidance they need. 

“It’s important to remember that this population is constantly changing and their needs are constantly changing,” Kloss said. “We need to be constantly evaluating what programs are working and what programs aren’t working.”

McKearn said he cannot emphasize enough how important it is for veterans to have a place on campus. 

“I think something that all the veteran centers on our campuses can do is be present,” McKearn said. “I know other veterans at UW Oshkosh who were not fully aware of where the Veterans Resource Center is or what they can do. Being present and being there is very important.”