Every so often a person gets the chance to give back to those who have served and sacrificed on our behalf. This is my chance.
About a year ago some veterans came up with a program to help severely injured or wounded veterans get on with their lives after leaving the service. As wounded warriors still on active duty, patients receive spectacular and focused care with state-of-the-art equipment used by top-notch doctors and technicians. They have access to a multitude of services like counselors, physical therapists, chaplains, and the like.
After they take off the uniform, however, the picture changes. The new veterans leave the well-established infrastructure of such places as Walter Reed, the National Naval Medical Center (Bethesda) and Brooke Army Medical Center, and they scatter all over the country. Although the VA and DOD continue to care for and monitor the wounded or injured veterans, they all eventually reach the point when they have to answer the question, “What do I do now?”
“How do I assimilate back into society? How do I find a rewarding job?”
They still have the same drive and sense of duty that inspired them to join the military. They still want to contribute.
How do they do that? Well, some of them aren’t sure.
So we created a nonprofit organization to position them for rewarding careers in their chosen professions. It is called the Wyakin Warrior Foundation. (Wyakin is a Native American term meaning “guardian spirit.” The wyakin would follow a Native American for life, protecting him in battle, give him advice, and comfort him.)
The program features six tenets:
1. A full ride scholarship for four full years
2. A multi-layered mentoring program (national level, local level, campus level)
3. A monthly job training/seminar series given by the nation’s leaders in business and government
4. A service project chosen and finished by the student veteran while in school, aimed at giving back to other wounded or injured veterans
5. Robust networking as they approach graduation
6. Lifetime membership in the Wyakin Warrior Foundation (with proactive “reach out and touch” follow up after graduation)
Scholarships are based on character and motivation, not grades. Students selected for the program either attend Boise State University or the College of Western Idaho, depending on academic background. (Either way, all students receive the same benefits.)
By the time they graduate, they will be highly educated, highly trained, highly motivated, and well-networked. They will be positioned for success – not only in a career, but for the rest of their lives. And that’s good, because I truly believe many of them are destined to be the nation’s next generation of leaders.
We had expected to feel honored to be a part of this endeavor. What we hadn’t expected was the overwhelmingly positive response from just about every person and organization who has heard about the program. I think it is because we all want to contribute and help these men and women get their lives back. Most of us don’t know how, and here is a way to do it.
You’ll hear more about this as the program matures. In the meantime, feel free to check out the new website at www.wyakin.org.
And if you have the time, we could use your help and prayers as we continue the journey.