Some Soldiers in the Warriors in Transition unit don't feel they are college material, but a new initiative of the Army Community Covenant is changing that. "A wounded Soldier told me he was not college material," said Brenda Spencer-Ragland, director of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation. "I couldn't believe we have Soldiers who have given their all for their country who don't feel they can continue their education, due to a comment made to them by in high school."
Soldiers in the Warrior Transition Unit now have the option to continue their education with Partners for Patriots, a training and mentoring program for the WTU.
"The Partners for Patriots initiative was conceived at the December 2007 WTU Town Hall Meeting," said Mary-Ellen Saur, director of the Soldier and Family Assistance Center. "After the town hall meeting, we had several brainstorming sessions with members of MWR, SFAC and WTU educational staff." DART Saur said the group discussed WTU population and expected needs that they may have in regards to education. "The main idea is to enhance and improve their competitive edge with their military and or civilian counterparts," she said.
The initial goal of the committee is to help identify educational workshops and classes to help Warriors in Transition to improve their current level of expertise and to provide educational resources to help those who were separating from the military, thereby increasing their education scores, increasing and/or enhancing their computer skills to improve their competitive edge in the military and civilian sector, said Saur.
Three WT population types who qualify for the program include: Warriors in transition who are returning to duty, who would be able to receive programmed training under the WTU command to help increase and maintain aptitude scores via educational services provided on post; WT's who are recovering and going through the Medical Evaluation Board who want to request Continuation on Active Duty or Continuation on Active Reserves and may want to improve their GT scores to qualify for a new MOS; and WT's separating from active duty who need to obtain college degrees and or improve computer skills, use of PDAs for cognitive deficits, who can attend workshops of specific need or interests to their future work (after separating from the military) in civilian life.
"The committee decided to develop the training and mentoring program called "Partners for Patriots" with on-post and local educational institutions and employers," said Saur. "Most of the committee members felt it was a "labor of love" for a deserving population of American Heroes."
Members of the "Partners for Patriots" committee include representatives from Family and Morale Welfare and Recreation, Cameron University, the Soldier and Family Assistance Center, Education Services, Harry Truman Educational Center, Warrior Transition Unit, Great Plains Technology Center, Army Career Assistance Program, and Veterans Upward Bound-East Central University.
"We trust it will have a positive effect on these wounded Soldiers, and it will show them they are college material and that Cameron University is willing and able to give them the opportunity to be successful at the college level," said Albert Johnson, Cameron University.
Johnson said the current program is just for wounded warriors who are in the Fort Sill Wounded Warrior Transition Unit.
"I feel the exposure to higher education at Cameron will open doors to these Soldiers that they might have thought were closed," said Johnson. "I trust it will give them insight into their own personal abilities.
Johnson said Cameron wants to be the university of choice for everyone, and the Partners for Patriots program gives wounded warriors the opportunity to experience Cameron University as students.
"This is yet another great initiative to improve the lives of Soldiers that are giving every thing in the defense of their country. Cameron University is proud to be a partner for patriots," said Johnson.