Like many veterans, Robert Crane attended college on the G.I. Bill, but understands that military benefits alone cannot support West Virginia’s veteran student population. This is why he and his wife, Sharon, have pledged $100,000 to establish the Esther L. Crane Endowed Scholarship at West Virginia University to benefit veteran students who are from West Virginia with a first preference to disabled military veteran students. They want to give back and help other veterans achieve their goals.

“Many times the G.I. Bill does not cover all of the costs of a college education, and we wanted to do something as a tribute to our wounded veterans,” Crane said. “They are the real heroes.”

Currently more than 800 military veteran students and their dependents are enrolled at WVU. Deciding to commit to a program of higher education and come to campus can be a unique challenge for these men and women. When service members transition out of the military, they leave behind a culture that has taught them to work as a team to achieve every mission. Veterans must learn to find new meaning in a new community with an entirely different value system. Gaps and differences in life experience, a shift in values, feelings of isolation and post-traumatic stress can compound the problem.

Crane, of Moneta, Va., understands these challenges and credits his mother, Esther Crane, a school teacher in the Jefferson County school system from Uvilla, W.Va., with his successful transition from the military into higher education. The scholarship is named in her honor.

Crane attended WVU before enlisting in the Army. He spent nine years in the active Army and Army Reserve before resigning with the rank of captain. After he left the military, his mother was instrumental in encouraging him to return to school and get his degree. After his military service, Robert earned Bachelor and Master of Business Administration Degrees and recently retired from Cummins, Inc., as executive vice president and corporate controller.

“Helping student veterans achieve their education, career, and life goals is what West Virginia University is all about” says Jerry McCarthy, WVU’s interim veteran advocate. “It’s people like Bob and Sharon Crane who our student veterans can rely on to make a difference in their lives and to get to a point where all student veterans succeed in higher education, achieve their academic goals, and gain meaningful employment.”

The endowment was created through the WVU Foundation in conjunction with A State of Minds: The Campaign for West Virginia’s University. The campaign is a $750 million fundraising effort being conducted by the Foundation on behalf of the University.

To find out more about how you can help WVU’s veteran students, visit or make a gift to the WVU Veterans Fund online at



CONTACT: Erica Bentley; WVU Student Affairs

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