Ryan was featured on the Quinnipiac Law School website in a feature entitled “One Student’s Story”
After serving in Afghanistan, military veteran Ryan Cleckner took on a new cause, safeguarding veterans’ rights. He started by launching a veterans’ advocacy student group.
When combat veteran Ryan Cleckner left the battlefield after two tours in Afghanistan, he thought his fighting days were finally behind him.
He was wrong. Cleckner, a sniper with the U.S. Army’s elite 1st Ranger Battalion, didn’t realize he was simply inheriting a new fight.
Back home and suffering from joint and muscle pain due to his service, Cleckner turned to his local veterans’ hospital in Arizona. But like many of his fellow veterans, what he found was a frustrating bureaucracy that denied him treatment for years.
Perseverance eventually got Cleckner the care he needed, and it gave him something else, too: a career path. “I decided the best way to fight the system and to help other veterans was to become a lawyer,” he says. “There are so many vets who are worse off than me.”
After graduating from Arizona State University with a degree in political science, Cleckner applied to law schools, and says he found the right one at Quinnipiac. On campus, he got right to work.
Cleckner teamed up with another first-year student and founded the Veteran’s Advocacy Group, a student organization dedicated to educating students about civilian-military relations, military careers and veterans’ issues. The group also takes part in community service on behalf of area veterans.
“We’re making Quinnipiac a forerunner in veterans’ issues,” Cleckner says. “The group has been greeted with open arms. Everyone has been so supportive.”
And Cleckner has found that cooperative spirit extends into the classroom. “Being able to come here has let me enjoy law school every day,” he says. “It’s not this cut-throat, competitive environment. This place is amazing.”
Cleckner has launched a fledgling organization, the New Battlefront Foundation, devoted to helping vets transition from military to civilian life. The organization’s Web site addresses topics including health care, education and job services.
In the future, Cleckner hopes to build on his initiatives. “The field of veterans’ law is booming,” he says. “Vets today really need representation.”