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UT News

Longhorn Veteran Spotlight: Daniel J. Rush

To celebrate Veterans Day, UT Austin is highlighting a few of the outstanding Longhorn veterans on campus. The university is home to more than 475 military veterans, and nearly 1,300 students are spouses or children of current or former military members.

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Where are you from, where and when did you serve, and what do you do currently?

I am from Jenks, Oklahoma. I entered U.S. Air Force flight training in 1988 and flew worldwide reconnaissance missions as an electronic warfare officer from 1990 to 1999. In 2000, I attended the USAF Test Pilot School. I served as an experimental flight test navigator until 2008, when I retired from the Air Force. I worked as a contractor flight test engineer until 2020, when I retired again. I am clearly not very good at retiring, because now I am here at UT Austin beginning a new career, working on a Ph.D. in civil engineering in the Building Energy and Environments program. I’m living the dream, every day.


What does Veterans Day mean to you?

Veterans Day for me is about remembering the great people whom I was fortunate enough to have serving beside me, the friends we lost along the way, and especially those who are still putting themselves in harm’s way, keeping us safe.


What skills or lessons from your service have you brought to the UT community and used in your work/studies?

My time in the service taught me rigorous honesty in testing and reporting results, a bias toward action, and concern for others.


UT Austin was recently ranked the No. 1 school for veterans in Texas. What, from your personal perspective, makes UT a world-class destination for veterans?

Wow! I did not know that, but I am not surprised. UT Austin is a world-class destination for all students, but the Student Veterans Association, led by Rosie Bravo, makes it even better for veterans. They’re a close group, and they watch out for each other.


During or after your service, who would you say was your best mentor?

Before, during and after my service, my best mentor was my father, a U.S. Navy Korean War veteran for whom I recently had the solemn privilege of delivering a eulogy. The things he taught me aren’t on my résumé, but right up to the end, he taught me the things that really matter, often when I didn’t even realize at the time that he was teaching me. He was subtle that way.


The University of Texas at Austin is committed to highlighting and supporting veterans and military-affiliated students, faculty and staff. To learn more about the veteran community at UT Austin and the many ways the university supports the U.S. military through research and training, visit utexas.edu/military.