From military to campus life, graduate finds passion in service
Warren, OH (May 13, 2021) - When Richard Lehman Jr. joined the Army in 2010, he planned to make it a career. One night changed those plans when he was loading 30 mm ammunition onto an AH-64D Apache Longbow helicopter. However, as is sometimes true, when one door closes, another one opens.
Lehman was stationed at Ft Campbell, Kentucky and deployed to Afghanistan twice in 2011 and then again in 2014.
He was an armament avionics electrician and one of his duties was to load ammunition and to do it quickly. One night in extreme darkness, he was running toward the Apache and he fell over weights that had been left out from the day’s exercises. He hit the ground hard but didn’t realize the extent of the damage for three months. During that time, he continued his job, with something not feeling right and with a great deal of pain.
“By the time I finally had it checked out, I found out I had a dislocated rib and three herniated discs,” Lehman said. “The news was tough to take. I realized my days in the military were coming to an end.”
Lehman left the Army on Dec. 23, 2015 on a Medical Discharge. He was back home, now in Diamond, OH, with his wife, Desiree, and two daughters, Arianna and Arabella. He immediately considered going to college and began submitting applications for spring semester. Caught in the middle of holidays and winter break, he struggled to get a response.
“I wanted to get back on track and I wanted to do it quickly,” Leahman said. “I am not one to sit around. Luckily, we drove by Kent State Trumbull one weekend and I realized it was closer than most of the schools I had applied to and when I looked at the website, I quickly noticed the campus is Military Friendly®.”
He called the school on Monday, and he was able to complete the application and he would have no problem starting that spring on his way to earning a Bachelor of Technical & Applied Studies degree. However, he was a little apprehensive.
“Entering college as a 29-year-old, I was nervous,” Lehman said. “In the military I had made many friends from all over the United States. Here, I assumed I would be the oldest student and I would have a tough time fitting in.”
That wasn’t the case. Lehman made more friends, younger and older. He worked at the Computer Center and then the Learning Center as a tutor. In 2019, he was named Homecoming King and represented the Trumbull Campus at Kent State’s Homecoming event.
He also discovered what he hopes to be his new passion, helping veterans. Lehman hopes to work for Veteran Affairs
“One of my projects was an essay,” he said. “I wrote about educational benefits and entitlements for veterans and how to navigate the system to overcome obstacles to take advantage of these programs.”
On Saturday, May 15, Richard Lehman, Jr. walked across the stage having earned a Bachelor of Technical & Applied Sciences degree with a Software Development minor. He also represented his class as the Commencement Speaker, looking upon Desiree, and his daughters: Arianna (13), Arabella (7), and the newest members of the family, Avalise (4), and Adeline (3).