For Veterans Day, Students Reflect on Their Military Service

YLS student veterans with Dean Heather Gerken

The veterans community at Yale Law School continues to grow, the result of increased recruiting and participation in the federal Yellow Ribbon Program, which helps veterans pay for tuition not covered by the post-9/11 GI Bill. Since 2017, the number of veterans attending Yale Law School has more than tripled.

Currently, approximately 40 veterans are enrolled at the Law School. The class of 2026 includes 14 veterans and service members — 7% of the class.

Dean Gerken and students at the annual Veterans Day breakfast
Before the University ceremony, student veterans attended the Law School's annual veterans' breakfast.

“Over the last six years, bringing more veterans to Yale Law School has been one of our top priorities,” Dean Heather K. Gerken said. “They are as inspiring a group of students as you will ever meet, and their experiences, leadership skills, and deep dedication to service have made Yale a better place.”

In honor of Veterans Day, as in past years, Yale Law School highlights the stories of students who have served. In a new series of videos, four current YLS students — three veterans and one student on active duty — talk about their service in the military, what brought them to Yale Law School, and the School’s growing community of veterans and service members. 


Will Clancy ’25 

Headshot of Will ClancyAfter a 30-year career in the U.S. Army, including Special Forces service in Iraq and Afghanistan, Will Clancy ’25 has embarked on his next chapter at Yale Law School. Clancy believes that veterans bring important perspectives to the classroom. 

“Many of the students here will go on to positions of leadership in our government and other governments around the world. It’s important for them to engage with those who have been most affected by the decisions made by policymakers at the ground level,” he said.
Watch Will Clancy ’25

Nathan Hernandez ’24 

Headshot of Nathan HernandezWest Point graduate Nathan Hernandez ’24 said much of his Army service involved helping soldiers navigate issues such as housing that are tied to policies and regulations, and that experience has influenced his time at Yale Law School. “It’s easy to lose sight of the ways policies impact real people,” he said. “Any time I think I’m losing sight at the law school of how the issues matter, there’s a soldier I remember from my service and a name and face I can put to all the issues,” he said. 
Watch Nathan Hernandez ’24


Zoe Kreitenberg ’24

Headshot of Zoe KreitenbergWhile at Yale Law School, West Point graduate Zoe Kreitenberg ’24 has served as co-president of the Yale Law School Veterans Association and participated in the Veterans Legal Services Clinic. She says that some of her favorite parts of her Army service were helping soldiers through personal challenges including encounters with the law. “The clinic has allowed me to continue that service helping veterans, but now with the legal tools that have the power to improve people’s lives,” she said.
Watch Zoe Kreitenberg ’24


Ana P. Mier Valdivia ’26

Headshot of Ana ValdiviaLieutenant Ana P. Mier Valdivia ’26, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, remains on active duty as she attends Yale Law School through the Navy’s Law Education Program. She is looking forward to serving as a Navy judge advocate general after she earns her law degree. Mier said the military offers a challenging career that also allows her to give back to the United States for giving her family a second chance. “My mom emigrated from Cuba, and I grew up with an appreciation for the privileges that come from living here,” she said. 
Watch Ana P. Mier Valdivia ’26


More Veterans at Yale

Read profiles of veterans at Yale, including Yale Law School student Mikaela Cardillo ’24.