In 2009, College of the Ozarks began the Patriotic Education Travel Program, designed to provide once-in-a-lifetime experiences for students and Veterans from World War II, the Cold War, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. The program pairs College of the Ozarks students with Veterans, taking them back to the battlefields where they fought. This Program honors Veterans and helps to educate the younger generation, instilling an appreciation for the sacrifices of American servicemen and women.
The College recognizes these trips as a powerful opportunity to reinforce one of the five goals of the College: Patriotic Education. These rich educational journeys provide life-changing experiences for College of the Ozarks students, who not only learn volumes of history from its firsthand participants but grow to love and appreciate them as well. Participating students return with renewed respect for Veterans and a dramatically increased love for their country.
Travel destinations have included England, France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Germany to visit sites from D-Day, Operation Market Garden, and the Battle of the Bulge, as well as Japan, the Philippines, Guadalcanal, the Solomon Islands, and the Mariana Islands in the Pacific Theatre. A special Holocaust trip took students, Veterans, and Holocaust survivors to Germany, Poland, Austria, the Slovak Republic, and the Czech Republic. Other trips have included China, Germany, the Czech Republic, and Austria focusing on the Cold War; Korea; and, most recently, Vietnam.
Students are selected from a pool of applicants who submit essays describing their desire to learn from the Veterans. The highly competitive process has produced student-Veteran pairings who share not only experiences but more importantly, a bond between two very different generations that is cherished by both.