By Spc. D.C. Long/Special to the ParaglideDecember 3, 2010
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Imagine for a moment that you are a Soldier fighting in a foreign land for the smallest of freedoms. All the years of training culminate into one single moment of truth. There's a flash. There is a thunderous noise. Everything goes dark. You wake up on an aircraft surrounded by medics trying to save your life and you are terrified to look down. Welcome to the first day in the life of a wounded warrior.
Each year, 25 wounded warriors and their spouses receive full scholarships to attend Colorado Technical University, awarded by the Wounded Warrior Scholarship Program. The WWS program was designed through a partnership between Colorado Technical University and the Yellow Ribbon Fund to offer education assistance to wounded servicemen and women. The scholarship covers the full cost of tuition, course materials and fees, and provides a new laptop computer.
All CTU scholarship recipients complete their degrees online through CTU, affording students to take classes from anywhere in the world. The CTU virtual campus offers the ideal environment for recovering servicemembers to start and/or, continue their education.
Sergeant Daryl P. Shaw, a wounded warrior assigned to Company C, Warrior Transition Battalion, was among those honored with the CTU scholarship. Over the span of 15 years, Shaw has seen more than nine deployments and answered the call to arms without question. His career began in 1987 in the United States Air Force where he served until 1990. He heard the call for Desert Shield and Desert Storm and served once again. In 1999, Shaw stepped forward again when Hurricane Andrew threatened the North Carolina coast with punishing winds and torrential rain. Many civilians were displaced by evacuations along the coast leaving the state of North Carolina in need of the help from the National Guard.
"This was my dedication to duty," Shaw said. His assignment during the hurricane was as a team leader, spearheading the task of setting up temporary shelters and coordinating efforts for evacuees.
Years later, the call to arms once again sounded, this time to Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom. While engaged in combat operations, the Stryker in which Shaw was riding overturned, resulting in a career-ending injury to his spine. After traveling from Iraq to Germany and eventually finding his way to Fort Bragg, Shaw continues to recover within the Warrior Transition Battalion.
Enter Colorado Technical University. Shaw had his interest peaked when information was given that CTU representatives would be visiting to inform Soldiers of educational possibilities within the university's online program. Shaw submitted an application with the required expository essay expressing his intentions for course study. To his surprise, his application was selected and approved, giving Shaw a full scholarship to attend the university through online classes.
"I really appreciate what CTU has done," he said. "I was really impressed with their presentation. I surely wasn't expecting them to go as far as they did for us, it was outstanding."
Shaw plans to pursue a major in psychology and minor in criminal justice, his intention is to earn his degree and return to the WTB program as a psychologist to assist other wounded warriors on their journey back to wellness and health.