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Veterans and Flagship

The PSU Russian Flagship counts among its students a large number of both Veterans and Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) students. Like the other Flagship students, they are learning Russian with an eye towards careers in which Superior level of language proficiency is critical to U.S. competitiveness and security.

Military veterans play a big part of Portland State history, and they continue to be prominent in the university’s identity and student body. The university was founded in 1946 as the Vanport Extension Center to provide higher educational opportunities to returning World War II veterans. Today, with an estimated 700-1000 vets on campus, PSU has the highest number of veterans in the Oregon university system.

The life experience that military service has given veterans allows them to bring unique perspectives to the classroom and enrich discussions with other undergraduate students. With their discipline, veterans often model for other Flagship students a focus on academic work and learning. Their energy contributes greatly to the extra-curricular activities connected to learning Russian in the Russian Flagship program. The Flagship program, like the military, is demanding. Our veteran students, who are high-aptitude language learners, will achieve professional-level proficiency in Russian over the course of their rigorous Flagship studies.

In addition to VA Educational benefits, Flagship veterans in the past have successfully competed for the prestigious David L. Boren Scholarship Award for study abroad and other PSU scholarships. Read more about how veterans study abroad.

Considered an effective pipeline to federal service, Flagship will see many of our veteran students upon completing the Language Flagship Program and their undergraduate education return to federal service, seeking out positions within the areas of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense, and the Department of State, among others.

Read about our diverse pool of talented veterans:

Conrad Henkel enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2005, and spent 5 years on active duty. Deployed to Afghanistan in 2009-2010, where he served as a crew chief on a UH-1Y helicopter, helping to eliminate the last Taliban stronghold in Helmand Province. Read Henkel’s full profile.



Dennis Kuzmin enlisted in the Navy in 2005 and served as a Seabee on both active and reserve duty. Deployed to Guam and Thailand in 2006, working in collaboration with the Royal Thai Marines and then to Iraq in 2008 as facilities support for the Joint Special Operations Command.
Read Kuzmin’s full profile.


Michael Farr enlisted 
in the Army in 2011 and served as an analyst and non-commissioned officer for an aviation unit based out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington State. His unit was deployed to Camp Humphreys, Republic of Korea, where he participated in battalion- and strategic-level training exercises on the peninsula while supporting the U.S./ROK alliance. Read Farr’s full profile.