By Debbie Gregory.
Every year, approximately 200,000 service members separate from the U.S. armed forces. The majority of these Veterans take advantage of their VA education benefits, commonly referred to as GI Bills. For decades, Veterans seeking to cash in on their hard-earned college tuitions have been forced to blaze their own path through the often daunting tasks of applying for benefits, enrolling in school and succeeding on campus. Going on its third year, the Warrior-Scholar Project has been empowering Veterans to realize their full potential as students.
The Warrior-Scholar Project contends that military Veterans not only possess the necessary skills to succeed on the campuses of prestigious universities, but that they are capable of being student leaders among their classmates. Despite the fact that many Veterans are several years removed from any form of rigorous academic endeavors, the organizers of the Warrior-Scholar Project believe that the motivation to achieve mission accomplishment, honed through their military service, drives Veterans to academic success.
The Warrior-Scholar Project was co-founded by Jesse Reising, Chris Howell and Nick Rugoff. The concept for the organization was sparked when Reising, a Marine Corps Officer Candidate, was recuperating from an injury he sustained during a football game between Yale and Harvard. The injury ended Reising’s military career. But the support that he received during that time prompted Reising, now project Chairman, and his two other co-founders to provide similar support for the men and women who served and are now using their Veteran education benefits.
The project’s concept was further refined by co-founder and Executive Director of the Warrior-Scholar Project, Chris Howell. Howell is a nine year Veteran of the Australian Army. When he separated from the military and was set to go to college, Howell’s brother David prepared a crash course that equipped Howell with the necessary information and resources to transition from the military to academics. The founders of the Warrior-Scholar Project seek to prepare similar experiences for all who have served.
The Warrior-Scholar Project is an intensive two week-long workshop where Veterans attend courses and discussions led by current Veteran studentswho have already made the transition, as well as school administrators and university professors on topics that include:
- Academic reading and writing
- Adapting to changed social circumstances
- Translating skills used and acquired in the military to the college environment
In the results of a 2014 survey of the Veterans who have participated in the Warrior-Scholar Project, 100% of them answered that the program made them feel better equipped for college. 87% of the Veterans who attended said that they strongly agreed that they have performed better because of their participation in the Warrior-Scholar Project. And 100% of the Veterans said that they would recommend the program to other Vets.
“After completing the Warrior-Scholar Project, Veterans think of themselves not only as Veterans, but as student-Veterans, or more aptly—as Warrior-Scholars—and they have the tools to find a new mission and build a new identity after life in the military.” Reising said in a testimonial before a Congressional sub-committee on April 10, 2014.
This year’s sessions will be held:
June 7th–22nd at Yale University.
July 5th–12th at Harvard University
July 20th–28th at the University of Michigan
The Warrior-Scholar Project functions under the Operation Opportunity Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. The program is propelled primarily by private funding from individual donors. If you would like to contribute to the Warrior-Scholar Project, please follow this link: http://www.warrior-scholar.org/donate.aspx
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Military Connection: The Warrior-Scholar Project: by Debbie Gregory