08:58 AM

Senior Gretchen Klingler is Ohio State University’s Student Veteran of the Year

The Ohio State University Office of Military and Veteran Services has selected senior Gretchen Klingler as the university’s first Veteran and Military Student of the Year. Klingler was honored for her hard work, dedication and exemplary performance at the Military and Veteran’s Ball, held earlier this semester.

Gretchen Klingler

Through her impressive academic achievements, unwavering commitment to Ohio State’s veteran community, and extraordinary work with student veterans and Columbus’ immigrant and refugee communities, she embodies the best of what it means to serve, to be a veteran of the Armed Forces, and an Ohio State Buckeye.

Klingler served six years in the Air Force as a Tactical Systems Operator, and after graduating from the Defense Language Institute fluent in Iraqi Arabic, accrued over 300 flight-hours providing airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance as a member of an elite intelligence unit supporting ground and airborne assets and missions. She deployed twice, once to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and again to Djibouti and Iraq in support of OEF and Operation Inherent Resolve.

An anthropology and Arabic double-major with a minor in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and a university-funded research grant recipient, Gretchen’s unstoppable energy and exemplary work ethic extends far beyond her military service and mere personal goals.

As president of Vets 4 Vets (Ohio State’s chapter of Student Veterans of America), Klingler has more than tripled membership this year alone as she works to connect student veterans with each other, with the greater campus community and with networking, service, and employment opportunities in and around Columbus. Under her leadership, in support of those goals, Vets 4 Vets has partnered with other veterans organizations including Pets 4 Vets on Campus, 1 Day for the K.I.A., Team RWB, Veterans and Shakespeare, the university’s Veteran Community Advocates, The Overwatch Partnership and Eyes of Freedom.

In addition, she is a force in the Ohio State community, both on the veteran’s side (where she can be found at the front of most veteran-related events, activities and workshops) and as an anthropologist (she also serves as the secretary of the undergraduate Anthropology Club).

The recent recipient of a research grant through the Global Mobility Project, Klingler intends to study the lives of immigrating Iraqi women and their daily experiences with cultural expectations, religious misconceptions, animosity toward Muslim-Americans, and a growing global sense of xenophobia towards foreigners worldwide, especially those from the Middle East.

This summer, she will be traveling to Malta to attend Expeditions Ethnographic Field School, gaining valuable experience she will use to conduct research regarding refugees and the realities of immigration, today and into the future.