By Ben Sherman, Fort Sill CannoneerNovember 21, 2012
FORT SILL, Okla.-- As part of the observance of Wounded Warrior Care Month in November, the Fort Sill Education Services Division hosted an education fair Nov. 8 at Truman Center to provide information for Warrior Transition Unit Soldiers.
"The WTU requested that we provide information for their Soldiers so we have our on-post schools represented here, as well as two schools that the wounded warriors requested," said Lisa Dyer, ESD specialist. "One of them is from Fort Scott (Kan.) Community College, which has a school for Harley-Davidson motorcycle maintenance, and the other is Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology in Okmulgee."
Dyer said the other schools represented were Fort Sill's regular education partners: Upper Iowa University, Webster University, Central Texas College, Columbia College, The University of Oklahoma, Cameron University and Great Plains Technology Center.
"Our theme for this fair is 'Transformation Through Education.' We understand the WTU's need for transition into either the civilian work force or back to a unit. The Education Services Division offers on-post classes, online classes, counseling, career counseling and testing. We support every Soldier and family member," Dyer said.
"Some folks don't know we have programs that are free, so we want to get that information out and let them know that there are opportunities," said Capt. Mike Carroll, WTU commander, about the educational programs on post.
"They have done a marvelous job with all units on post, but here recently with the WTU, they've offered some on-duty education that can result in college credits through Central Texas College, and working with the WTU schedule to arrange specific classes for the WTU," Carroll said. "All of the schools here on post are here at the invitation of the education center, but they are also here because they want to help the wounded warriors."
Wounded warriors spent time talking to representatives from the various schools about degree programs they offered, which range from associate and bachelor degrees at some schools, to graduate-level programs for Soldiers who already have a college degree.
Spc. Terry Helms came with his battle buddy Spc. Brandon Drain, both of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 279th Regiment, 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, to check out the education fair.
"I'm looking to see what opportunities I have here," said Helms. "I'm in the WTU so I will be getting out on a medical release soon. I have to do something in the civilian world, so I'm trying to get ahead of it before I leave the post."
Helms went with Drain to the Fort Scott Community College booth to check out the Harley-Davidson motorcycle maintenance program, which is being offered at Fort Sill for the first time. Helms said that Drain was interested in the Harley school for a possible after-Army career, while he was checking out some other opportunities.
"I went into the Army when I was 21 years old, and I've been a computer network administrator for the Army. So I'm looking for a program that will help me use my military experience and translate it over to the civilian world," Helms said. "then I want to open up my own business when I get out."
"The education center staff wanted this to be a family-driven event. These are major decisions in the life of not just Soldiers but their family members, and the counselors are willing to sit down with them and help them plan a way ahead," Carroll said.
Dyer added Fort Sill has an advantage when it comes to equipping Soldiers for the future.
"We have a great situation in which all of our schools work together. If we don't have the program at one school then they refer them to another school that does have that program. That's unique to Fort Sill," said Dyer.
She added the WTU Soldiers specifically requested the Harley-Davidson program, as well as the OSU Institute of Technology's program for training Caterpillar heavy equipment mechanics.
"We try to respond to the Soldier's requests as much as possible," she said.
"This is a great example of the Lawton-Fort Sill community, not just the medical community that we always think about with warrior care, but the education programs and other folks within the community reaching out and taking care of our wounded warriors," Carroll said. "The Army is going through a massive transformation, but we're not losing sight of the fact that we still owe a responsibility to our wounded warriors to help them transition to whatever comes next in their lives."