Decorated Combat Veteran To Lead UConn’s Veterans Programs
By Stephanie Reitz
UConn Today
June 2, 2016
A decorated combat veteran, two-time Bronze Star medal recipient, and UConn ROTC alum has been named director of UConn’s Office of Veterans Affairs and Military Programs.
U.S. Army Maj. Alyssa Kelleher ’04 (CLAS) is most recently a human resources manager for the Connecticut National Guard and commander of the Officer Candidate School at its 1/169th Regional Training Institute. She joins UConn on June 10.
UConn established its Office of Veterans Affairs & Military Programs in early 2013 to provide one-stop assistance for military-connected students. UConn has more than 900 veterans and military-connected students, in addition to more than 300 veterans who are UConn employees, and about 150 ROTC cadets.
“Coming to work at UConn is like coming home for me,” Kelleher says. “I have had a connection with UConn and the local community in one way or another for most of my life.”
Kelleher was an Army ROTC cadet herself while attending UConn in the early 2000s, enrolling after serving as an enlisted soldier in the Connecticut Army National Guard. She graduated magna cum laude from UConn in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in political science, and was commissioned as a quartermaster 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army.
She served on active duty in Afghanistan and at Fort Drum, N.Y., until returning in 2007 to the Connecticut National Guard, where she was a project officer, company commander, and adjutant before her current position.
While on her two deployments to Afghanistan, she commanded a Forward Support Company and a Forward Logistics Element, leading soldiers on more than 150 combat missions and 180 combat logistics patrols. Her awards and decorations include two Bronze Star medals and the Combat Action Badge.
In her current role as a human resources manager, Kelleher leads an office similar in size and function to the UConn Office of Veterans Affairs & Military Programs. She works directly with veterans from all branches of service and their family members to assist them with benefits, and also helps full-time employees in both the Army and the Air National Guard as they return from deployment and resume their civilian jobs.
As director of UConn’s veterans and military programs, Kelleher will bring all of those skills to bear as the leader of an office that helps military-connected students with everything from understanding veterans’ educational benefits to getting assistance with housing, academic advising, counseling, career services, recreation, and other services.
She will also continue her assignment as commander of the Connecticut National Guard’s Officer Candidate School, providing a valuable bridge between the Guard and UConn, whose military-connected students include many current and former National Guard members.
As director of UConn’s Office of Veterans Affairs & Military Programs, Kelleher will succeed retired Lt.-Col. Kristopher Perry, a Navy and Air Force veteran who was the office’s founding director.
“I am extremely excited to begin working with the veterans and military programs team at UConn,” says Kelleher. “Kris Perry has built a strong and successful program, and I plan to grow what he has established into one of the top programs in the nation.”
UConn’s Office of Veterans Affairs & Military Programs has spearheaded or supported several large initiatives in the three years since it was established.
Notably, it helped UConn expand the pool of GI Bill beneficiaries eligible for in-state tuition; centralize the benefit certification so veterans at all UConn campuses can get extensive assistance; expand the tuition waiver for combat veterans to include summer and intersession courses; and develop standards for awarding UConn academic credit for qualified military service.
In her new role as head of UConn’s veterans and military programs, Kelleher will have a unique perspective: In addition to leading the office, she is a student again herself, on track to receive a master’s degree in human resources management in 2017 from the UConn School of Business.
The director’s position also includes maintaining strong relationships with the UConn Veterans Student Association, state Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of the Governor, Veterans Administration, the Connecticut National Guard, corporate partners, and other entities.
“UConn has made an outstanding choice in appointing Alyssa Kelleher,” says Robert T. Ross, executive director of the Connecticut Office of Military Affairs. “I am impressed by her achievements as a military officer that prove her to be a very capable leader.
“She brings to UConn a well established reputation as an administrator with the right knowledge and specialized expertise to provide excellent service to UConn’s veterans,” he continues. “I look forward to working with her, and continuing the productive collaboration between my office and UConn’s.”