Michigan Veteran Education Initiative appoints new program director

December 21, 2015 - Lansing, Mich.− The Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency, in partnership with the Michigan College Access Network, has hired Army veteran Leonard Rusher as the new program director of the Michigan Veteran Education Initiative. The initiative is an effort to support veterans transitioning to civilian life and aid in their pursuit of a college education.

The program provides one-on-one support to help thousands of veterans in Michigan’s educational institutions by providing outreach services, support and information. The program was launched in 2014 as a partnership with the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency and the Michigan College Access Network.

“Between 30,000 and 50,000 veterans will leave the military and move to Michigan in the next five years,” said Brandy Johnson, MCAN executive director. “As a leader in the state’s college access movement, we’re incredibly excited to watch this program continue to grow and help thousands of veterans receive a college education under the leadership of Leonard Rusher.”

Rusher entered the Army in 1982 and transitioned into the Michigan Army National Guard in 1986 as a track vehicle mechanic. He became a field artillery officer in 1989 and has since been deployed twice to Kuwait for Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation New Dawn. Rusher is an adjunct professor at Baker College teaching Homeland Security and Anti-Terrorism.

As the MVEI program director, he will oversee 13 veteran resource representatives who are located within 15 colleges in Michigan.

“Since the program was created, VRRs have connected with more than 1,000 student veterans and assisted many of them with education benefits, health care applications and compensation claims,” MVAA Director Jeff Barnes said. “The mission of the VRRs and the VEI program is to provide support and answers to veterans and assist them in successfully completing their education.”

Rusher holds a master’s degree in entrepreneurial management and a bachelor’s degree in marketing, both obtained from Davenport University.

To learn more about the program, visit www.micollegeaccess.org/statewide-initiatives/mvei.


About Michigan College Access Network
As the leader in the state’s college access movement, MCAN’s mission is to increase Michigan’s college readiness, participation and completion rates, particularly among low-income students, first-generation college going students, and students of color. Michigan has recently experienced a modest increase in our college attainment rate -- from 37.4 percent of 25-to-64-year-olds possessing at least an associate’s degree, to 38.4 percent. However, Michigan’s rate still lags behind the national average of 40 percent. It is MCAN’s goal to increase Michigan’s postsecondary educational attainment rate to 60 percent by the year 2025. For more information, visit www.micollegeaccess.org

About the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency
MVAA serves as the central coordinating point for Michigan veterans, connecting those who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces, and their families, to services and benefits throughout the state. Learn more at MichiganVeterans.com or call 800-MICH-VET (800-642-4838).


Media Contact: Lisa King
Cell: 313-451-1387

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