Retired Illinois Army National Guard Lt. Col. Loren Easter of Springfield has been named the first program director for Military and Veteran Student Services at the University of Illinois Springfield. He brings 27 years of military experience to the student support role.
As program director for UIS Military and Veteran Student Services, he will work with students who are actively serving in the military, veterans and family members who are eligible to use VA benefits to further their college education. He will manage and implement the military educational benefits request process, serve as a primary point of contact for military-connected students, build relationships with off-campus military-connected entities and recruit military-connected students. He will also oversee the VA Work Study program and supervise VA Work Study Student Staff.
“I am very excited to support UIS and its military-connected students as the new director of Military and Veteran Support Services,” Easter said. “This is a great opportunity to leverage my prior military experiences and relationships in advancement of the UIS Military and Veteran Support program. I look forward to ensuring military-connected students are able to access available resources and effectively navigate admissions, registration and financial aid benefits in support of their personal and academic endeavors.”
Easter comes to UIS from the Illinois National Guard, where he most recently worked as program manager for the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) program. ESGR promotes cooperation and understanding between service members and their civilian employers. Prior to that role, he worked as a management and program analyst.
Easter enlisted in the U.S. Army in April 1995 as a Nuclear, Biological, Chemical Operations Specialist. He was commissioned through the Illinois National Guard’s Officer Candidate School in August 1999. Following Chemical Officer Basic Course, he was assigned as the Chemical Officer for 3rd Battalion, 123rd Field Artillery. Following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Easter volunteered for Operation Noble Eagle, spending 2003-2004 as the Commander, Battery B, for deployed Noble Eagle Security Forces at the 182nd Airlift Wing, based in Peoria, Illinois.
After Noble Eagle, Easter was assigned as the first Commander of the 444th Chemical Company in Monmouth, Illinois and assumed responsibilities as the full time Officer-in-Charge of the 44th Chemical Battalion. Easter was tasked with developing the Chemical, Biological, Radiological/Nuclear and Explosive Enhanced Response Force Package (CERFP) program in Illinois.
Easter deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2008 as the Multinational Division Air Operations Officer. In November 2008, Easter transitioned to Operation Enduring Freedom and served in Afghanistan in continued support of the Global War on Terrorism.
Following the deployment, Easter served as Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Officer to the 35th Infantry Division. He completed U.S. Army Command and General Staff College and served as the first Executive Officer of the 404th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade. Easter completed Engineer branch qualification and served as the Illinois National Guard Engineer Plans Officer.
He has supported many exercises including: Bahgram (Poland), Anakonda (Poland), Eager Lion (Jordan) and Bright Star (Egypt).
Easter's military awards and decorations include, but are not limited to the Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal (second award), Army Commendation Medal (3 Oak Leaf Clusters), Air Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal (2 OLC), National Defense Service Medal (1 Bronze Star), NATO Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the Army Combat Action Badge.
Easter earned a bachelor’s degree from Southern Illinois University Carbondale. He is a life member of the Chemical Corps Regimental Association, National Guard Association of the United States and the National Guard Association of Illinois.