Veterans Service Offices at both Amarillo College and West Texas A&M University in Canyon help veterans, as well as their dependents, navigate these benefits and help them get the education they are seeking.

Through education benefits, veterans of each branch of the military are provided an opportunity to pursue higher education after they complete their service.

Veterans Service Offices at both Amarillo College and West Texas A&M University in Canyon help veterans, as well as their dependents, navigate these benefits and help them get the education they are seeking.

Kelly Murphy, the veterans coordinator at Amarillo College, has been at the college for 21 years. She said she started in the registrar’s office and began her role as the coordinator in 2007.

Murphy said the college has always had a decent following with veterans and their dependents. She saw a massive increase after Sept. 11, 2001, with the number of veterans increasing to more than 300 a semester.

Because of that growth, Murphy said the support from the college for veterans grew. With that also came space growth, from a cubicle to currently an entire suite dedicated to the office’s services.

“We supported our veterans but there wasn’t a lot of recognition,” she said. “When I took the position, we created a Vet Club, we created a scholarship.”

Leo Reid, the director of veteran services at West Texas A&M University, helped open the office in 2012. Reid said he began his journey as a Buffalo in 2002, becoming a student after leaving the Navy after 10 years of active duty.

Reid said the transition between the Navy and being a student was easy for him.

“I had a good time,” he said. “I made really good connections with students in class too, as a non-traditional student. I was 27, among students who were 18 and 19… I got right in there.”

After Reid finished school, he stayed as a professional counselor in the university’s counseling center. The university then called on him to help open the Veteran Services Center.

When students come to the office, Reid said, he can relate to them because he has been in their shoes. The office gives students an explanation of their benefits and how they work, as well as other services that are available to them on-campus, as well as in the community. The office works with the local veterans’ affairs office as well as the Texas Veterans Commission.

But the offices do more than just provide service for the veteran students on both campuses. Murphy said she is also responsible to educate faculty and staff about reactions veterans may have to certain things in the classroom.

“(We get) faculty and staff educated on veterans and how they are a value to the classroom and things they may bring to the classroom, sometimes related to PTSD and traumatic brain injuries,” she said. “…They have certain things that may cause a trigger so (we try) to educate the faculty and staff on how to handle and present themselves to veterans.”

At West Texas A&M University, Reid said he encourages the students he interacts with to chat with their professors about what topics could trigger reactions. Some faculty and staff may have preconceived ideas about veterans from what they see in the media. But speaking with a veteran one-on-one helps them understand.

“From the start, go chat with your professors… introduce yourself,” he said. “This is who I am. You don’t have to tell them everything. When things come up that may (trigger the person)… just having that conversation is important.”

To connect with fellow veterans at West Texas A&M University, the university has a Veterans’ Lounge, giving a place for veteran students to study, rest and use as a ‘reset room,’ Reid said. This gives students the chance to meet others who have been in similar situations.

“They get a lot from us but that peer to peer mentorship (is critical),” Reid said. “…It helps with the transition process, that you aren’t alone. It’s 10,000 students, it’s a sea of people to some… You are not alone. You are not the only one here.”

Murphy said the space at Amarillo College also provides the veteran students a place for camaraderie, giving them the chance to connect and speak with fellow veterans.

“A civilian does not have the experiences that they had,” she said. “A lot of them may have been in the same branch but different units, but they can still talk the same language. It’s a brotherhood. It’s a connection… It’s good for them to have a place to come to where they can relax or feel safe. Sometimes just being in a classroom or an open environment, they might not necessarily feel safe.”

Murphy said other students can learn discipline and determination from the veteran students at Amarillo College, as well as a sense of respect for authority.

While the main goal is navigating these students through their benefits, another goal for Reid is to have a personal connection with each and every veteran who comes through the office.

“That’s what we try to do. We try to build those connections too because it goes a long way,” he said. “It instills security and comfort for them because they know they can chat with Leo (and the others in our office.)”

Through his time in the Panhandle, Reid said he has felt welcome in this part of the country as a veteran. The services for veterans in this region are easily available.

But Reid is not the only veteran in the region who feels this way.

“They feel that and they know that those services are easy to find,” he said. “It’s not going to take me three hours… I don’t have to plan a whole day to do those things. Availability of service and the knowledge of those services (are important.)”

For more information about both Veteran Services offices, visit and