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Ernie Stroud is an advocate for military vets

“Our freedoms in America did not come free,” says alumnus and Air Force veteran Ernie Stroud.

When asked whether a military career is a viable option for a college graduate, Ernie Stroud, BS management science ’79, answers with passion. “I believe to serve one’s country is an honor, privilege and a duty not to be taken lightly,” he says. “Our freedoms in America did not come free.”

Stroud has been proudly serving his country and veterans for more than 50 years.

At 19, Stroud served with the U.S. Air Force in Korea. “I loaded guns, rockets and bombs onto the fi rst combat jet aircraft in history for one long year,” he remembers. Stroud also served in Vietnam and was medically retired in 1968, so he sympathizes with veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. He acknowledges that they face many of the same challenges he and his peers struggled with. “Post-traumatic stress disorder is prevalent,” he says. “But there is more awareness and support now, at least in some areas.”

In 1970, Stroud became a Civil Service employee. Today, he looks back on 18 years of working with computer systems in various capacities, including an assignment at Lowry Air Force Base. “Configuration management and involvement in inspector general activities using highly classified computers was my profession,” he explains. “I owe so much of this capability to the University of Denver for its solid management degree requirements.”

Since retiring from the Air Force Intelligence Agency in 1988 with 17 awards for superior performance, he hasn’t slowed down. Currently, he serves as a legislative chair and veterans’ advocate for the American Legion and the Disabled American Veterans of South Carolina. “We, meaning the Veterans Administration and military bases, are now doing physical screenings for every returnee,” says Stroud. “This makes future claims for disability so much easier, and that is what I would like to see in every community in America.”

Stroud continues his hard work on behalf of veterans to ensure that their causes are not forgotten by lawmakers. “Lack of funding is hurting us,” he says. “Our goal is to keep pressure on Congress. We have to become their conscience.”

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