Green to Grad program helping veterans go back to school

By: Hope Jensen Email
By: Hope Jensen Email

News 12 This Morning / Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2012

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Transitioning from the military back to civilian life can be hard, but Georgia Health Sciences University is trying to make it a little easier with a new program.

It's called the Green to Grad program and is helping veterans go back to school. It's all part of a federal grant they received. They're trying to make it easier for veterans to get into programs at GHSU by offering a special set of admission criteria and transcript review.

"If they weren't this way I wouldn't be able to do what I'm doing," said Wesley Vaughn. He is an Army veteran and now a Physician Assistant student at GHSU.

The 34-year-old father of three was injured in the military and when he got back, he wasn't quite sure what to do.

"Not everybody in the military has a civilian counterpart job," explained Wesley. "Like for me, as a combat heavy engineer, there's not a lot of bridges that need blowing up in the southeast so I had to pick another career."

Picking that career became much easier thanks to GHSU.

"You find out really quickly that either you're gonna get an education or you're not gonna do a whole lot as far as making career choices so they've been able to help facilitate that to me which has been a great blessing to me and my family," he said.

Now, the Green to Grad program is working to help get more veterans into the PA program.

"We're trying to increase instead of our one person that we traditionally have that was a returning veteran we're looking at up to 10% of the class," said Program Director Bonnie Dadig.

The new program allows them to take life into consideration, instead of just grades. For example, they'll consider course work not completed because of a deployment and skills learned in the military.

"We're looking at different ways to use the army credits they gained for different training," explained Dadig.

"You know most places take a four year degree, but they're able to work with soldiers and work with veterans and get them in here," added Wesley.

For him, it's changed his life. "It's just been an absolute godsend for me and my family and I want to make sure that other veterans coming behind me have that opportunity," he said.

So that is what he did. Wesley actually wrote letters to help apply for the grant because he wants all vets to have the opportunity that he is getting right now.

This is the pilot program, but they are planning to do the same thing throughout the whole school. They say these guys deserve these opportunities and they also have a lot of skills that transfer over well. It's things like working under pressure and just medical training they receive in the military that make them good PA's or medical students.

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