Military Veterans to Attend Academic Boot Camp at Syracuse University

Intensive program helps prepare enlisted veterans for transition from military to four-year college.

Syracuse, New York – For some military veterans, the first day of school at a new college or university is as challenging as a deployment to a foreign country. Immersion in a new culture and reintroduction to a demanding academic environment can make the transition from military to higher education difficult. To ease the transition, the Warrior-Scholar Project (WSP) is hosting an intensive one week academic boot camp at Syracuse University beginning Sunday, June 18.

The Warrior-Scholar Project coordinates immersive academic preparation courses for enlisted military veterans of any skill level at America’s top universities. The program is designed to help military veterans develop and rediscover the skills and confidence necessary to successfully complete four-year undergraduate degrees. Because veterans are non-traditional students with unique experiences distinguishing them from their college peers, WSP also uses the boot camps to help prepare participants for the emotional and cultural adaptations required to succeed in a higher education setting.

“We are proud to host a Warrior-Scholar Project Academic boot camp at Syracuse University for the 2017 year,” said Dr. Sidney Ellington, Executive Director of WSP. “The program at Syracuse will tap into the immense potential of Post-9/11 veterans and reduce obstacles to success, addressing veterans’ misperceptions about college and building their confidence through an intense academic reorientation.”

WSP launched its first program at Yale University in 2012 with nine participants. Since then, WSP has expanded to encompass 12 top schools, including Syracuse University, and is on track to host more than 200 veterans at boot camps across the country in 2017. In addition to Syracuse University, WSP graduates have gone on to enroll at top schools including Yale University, Harvard University and Georgetown University.

“Stepping onto a college campus is intimidating for anyone, and can be even more so for active or veteran service members,” said Mike Haynie, Vice Chancellor and Executive Director of the Institute for Veterans and Military Families – Syracuse University. “The important role the Warrior-Scholar Project plays in engaging these military members with universities around the U.S. is vital to their future career success. We are proud to be a part of that work, and we look forward to hosting this year’s participants this summer to share our educational experience with them.”

Each WSP boot camp is run by a team of student veterans, and taught by university professors and graduate students. An intensive syllabus composed of both classic and modern scholarly works guides participants as they learn how to frame their ideas in an academic context, think critically, and formulate scholarly arguments. Participants not only learn the subject-matter material; they learn how to learn.

“Because of their technical training and diverse, cross-cultural experiences, military veterans have much to contribute to higher education, beyond their strengths in discipline, teamwork, and resilience,” said Corri Zoli, Chair, Board of Academic Advisors – WSP and Director of Research, Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism – Syracuse University. “Yet too often veterans are an uncommon sight at four-year colleges. The presence on Syracuse University’s campus of venerable veterans’ programs such as the Defense Comptrollership Program and the Military Visual Journalism Program, means our partnership with WSP is a natural fit, and it works exceptionally well. As an instructor, I can attest to how this college-readiness program strives to make veterans part of a wider academic conversation and to become campus leaders.”

“This course was a rigorous challenge which prepared myself to succeed in my studies at Syracuse University,” said Adam LeGrand, WSP program alumni. “The focused reading and writing skills have enabled me to anticipate earning honors this past semester; I highly recommend this course to any veteran considering returning to higher education. The contacts and support I have received in my goals of attending law school from WSP staff and alumni have by far been the most important outcome for myself.”

WSP funders and private donors cover the entire cost of the program for participants, excluding travel. Student veterans attending Syracuse University boot camp will reside in campus housing and attend lectures in various classrooms.

To learn more about the program, visit

About the Warrior-Scholar Project
The Warrior-Scholar Project (WSP) runs immersive academic boot camps hosted at America’s top universities for enlisted military veterans, and is funded by the prestigious Bob Woodruff Foundation, the Diana Davis Spencer Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. The majority of enlisted personnel exiting the military have not been in a classroom setting for several years, and find it hard to transition, being unprepared for the fundamentally different social and cultural environment. WSP helps veterans rediscover and develop the skills and confidence necessary to successfully complete 4-year undergraduate programs in higher education. WSP unlocks their educational potential and transforms the way veterans view themselves as students. For more information, visit, email or call 202-796-8777.

About Syracuse University
Syracuse University is a private research university of extraordinary academics, distinctive offerings, and an undeniable spirit. With a gorgeous campus in the heart of New York State, a global footprint, and nearly 150 years of history, our university is made for those who want a quintessential college experience. Proudly selective, we take a chance on people who dream big. This is where you come to cheer, to grow, to become the person you want to be. The scope of our university is a testament to its strengths: a pioneering history dating to 1870; a choice of more than 200 majors and 100 minors; nearly 15,000 undergraduates and 5,000 graduate students; more than a quarter million alumni in 160 countries; and a student population from all 50 U.S. states and 123 countries.

Syracuse University: Gateway for America’s Veterans (Video)

Syracuse University: Gateway for America’s Veterans highlights Syracuse University‘s commitment to the military and our nations veterans– both past and present. Today, student veterans and military-connected students, receive support from dedicated staff from the moment they consider applying to long after they have left the University. Watch the following video to learn more about our story of supporting those who have served our nation!


Simulations Guide Veterans Facing Challenges in Higher Education

Syracuse University researchers from The Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF), the Office of Military Affairs (OVMA) and the School of Education (SOE) collaborate to develop simulated interaction models (SIMs) for veterans transitioning into and currently enrolled in higher education.


March 1, 2017. From feelings of loneliness to anxiety, veterans may face many challenges transitioning into or acclimating to campus life. In an effort to help those with such difficulties, researchers from the IVMF, OVMA and the School of Education at Syracuse University will begin the process of developing simulated interaction models, better known as SIMs, for veterans in higher education. According to Nick Armstrong, Ph.D., Senior Director for Research and Policy, for IVMF, such challenges exist and are ones that he knows all too well. “Unfortunately, research shows that many veterans express more angst over fitting in on a college campus than going back overseas on their n’th combat tour. And, I lived this in my own experience here at Syracuse a decade ago,” says Armstrong.


Benjamin Dotger, professor of Teaching and Leadership at the School of Education, (SOE), has been using SIMs for over a decade to prepare pre-service teachers and educational leaders.  Dotger’s SIMs builds from medical education’s use of simulations, where future physicians engage with standardized patients. Dotger and colleagues use SIMs to study how future teachers and leaders engage in direct, face-to-face interactions with carefully trained actors who serve as standardized parents, students, or colleagues.  Situated in a simulation room at SUNY Upstate Medical University’s Clinical Skills Center, a future educator faces the questions, statements, and issues that a standardized individual presents, working to synthesize the content knowledge, instructional practices, and professional dispositions taught within the School of Education. Simulations are then video recorded, allowing for structured, systematic, data-informed reflection by those who participate.


The clinical simulations, specific to veterans and ROTC members, will be designed using data gathered from Syracuse University student veterans getting ready to transition on campus and those currently enrolled at SU, along with those who have graduated. The simulations will be structured to model situations that veterans may face when they come to campus in order to help them better transition to campus life. According to Dotger, while currently in the initial stages, this project has the potential to be ground breaking. “This project presents a potential game-changing opportunity for higher education to, on the one hand, develop better tools that would support veterans’ transition to campuses across the country and, on the other hand, prepare the future professoriate and student affairs cadre on leading practices supporting student veteran success.”


Additionally, says Dotger, “it is critical that we both recognize and support our veterans as they – and their families – transition from military service to collegiate study.” Clinical simulations are opportunities to practice engaging in specific situations.  “Our hope, he says, is that SIMs will help veterans’ practice the transitions – the tough situations and unforeseen challenges – in an environment that is supportive–we expect the project to build community among cohorts of veterans as they transition to SU, and we expect the project to offer support to veterans as they join the broader SU community.”


The SIMs for veterans in higher education project is set to begin next month. For more information, visit the IVMF, OVMF or SOE websites at,, or


About the Syracuse University School of Education (SOE)

The mission of the Syracuse University School of Education is to prepare thoughtful and socially just leaders who bridge scholarship and practice. Through collaborative partnerships and multifaceted inclusive approaches, we enhance student learning and success, physical activity and health, and mental health and wellbeing across communities. For more information about the School of Education, visit,


About the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University

The Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) is the first interdisciplinary national institute in higher education focused on the social, economic, education, and policy issues impacting veterans and their families. Through its professional staff and experts, the IVMF delivers leading programs in career, vocational, and entrepreneurship education and training, while also conducting actionable research, policy analysis, and program evaluations. The IVMF also supports communities through collective impact efforts that enhance delivery and access to services and care. The Institute, supported by a distinguished advisory board, along with public and private partners, is committed to advancing the lives of those who have served in America’s armed forces and their families. For more information, visit and follow the IVMF on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

LT C.W. Harold Douglass- You Should Know His Story

LT C.W. Harold Douglass is an alumnus of Syracuse University, and a military veteran. You should know his story, because it’s a Syracuse University story – one that speaks to our past, our present, and our future.

In 1916, Douglass graduated from New York State College of Forestry at Syracuse University, where he was heavily involved in his academia and extra-curricular activities. He was the editor of the Daily Orange and of the Empire Forester, the official publication of the College of Forestry, and served as an associate staff of the Onondagan. Douglass was a member of the Sigma Phi Epsilon, Pi Delta Upsilon, Tau Theta Upsilon and Alpha Xi Sigma fraternities. He was also a member of the senior council.

Upon graduation, he was hired by H. H. Franklin Company as an Assistant Advertising Manager. After a year, he moved to Washington in pursuit of a position as assistant editor of American Forestry. Soon after his move to Washington, the United States entered into World War I, and Douglass enlisted in the Army Air Corps. Assigned to an American aviation section in France, LT Douglass became part of the elite Royal Flying Corps (RFC) with the task of directing and observing artillery fire and undertaking photographic reconnaissance.

On June 11, 1918, Lieutenant Douglass was killed in action when his plane fell behind German lines. He left his base on a scouting trip over “No man’s land”, where he flew over German lines and never returned. The specifics of Lieutenant Douglass fate are still unknown. The RFC was still new at the time of LT Douglass death. Having been established six years earlier, it was still in its experimental stage of arming aircraft, and the rate of fatal accidents was still very high. Because of his bravery during his time of service, Lieutenant Douglass won the admiration of his British and French comrades, as a Royal Flying Corps member.

The Douglass Memorial, designed by fellow classmate Hollis J. Howe and erected by his graduating class of 1916, is a tablet placed in the rotunda at the New York State College of Environmental Science and Forestry, honoring his life, career, and service to the nation.

C.W. Harold Douglass is an alumnus of Syracuse University and a veteran of the U.S. military. You should know his story.

Pat Tillman Foundation


Are you an active-duty service member, veteran or military spouse pursuing your higher education? The Tillman Scholars program unites the best talent and leadership in the military community to make a significant impact in the fields of medicine, law, business, policy, technology, education and the arts. The application to become a 2017 Tillman Scholar will open from February 1 – March 1, 2017. If you’d like feedback on your essays and resumes, please visit

Click Here to Learn More About Eligibility and Benefits

Student Veterans Perform at Syracuse Stage in ‘Separated’

For one night only on Jan. 18, Syracuse Stage, in partnership with Hendricks Chapel, the Syracuse University Student Veterans Association and the Syracuse University Office of Veterans and Military Affairs, presents “Separated,” a theater performance based on the personal experiences of eight Syracuse University student veterans.

"Separated" graphicThe performance takes place in the Storch Theatre in the Syracuse Stage/SU Drama complex at 820 E. Genesee St. at 7 p.m. “Separated” is a free, non-ticketed event open to the public on a first come, first served basis. A pre-show reception with free hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar begins at 6 p.m.

“Separated” is a collaborative effort between members of the Syracuse Stage artistic staff and the participating student veterans. Syracuse Stage associate artistic director Kyle Bass interviewed the students about their experiences in and out of military service. From the interview transcripts, he devised and composed a performance script that weaves each student’s individual story into a single narrative. The students will perform the finished script as a staged reading directed by Syracuse Stage’s new artistic director Robert Hupp.

The service experience of the eight students—Nick Brincka, Halston Canty, Zack Couch, Ginger Peterman, Brandon Smith, Jake VanMarter, Zack Watson and Kierston Whaley—include tours of duty in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan and represent the Army, Navy and Marines. The title “Separated” references the separations each has endured in first separating from home and family to join the military, and then separating from the military to resume civilian life.

“Each of the eight student veterans in ‘Separated’ has a compelling and necessary story to tell,” Bass says. “Taken as a whole, their narratives of courage, fear, doubt, perseverance, purpose, uncertainty, loyalty, vulnerability, struggle and survival create a moving portrait of human truth. It’s thrilling and an honor to be entrusted with the stories of their experiences.”

The performance will be followed by a moderated question-and-answer session with the cast and creative team. A live stream will be broadcast on the Syracuse Stage Facebook page during the performance.

“Veterans have a world of experiences before they enter the classroom. ‘Separated’ allows the veteran students to share their stories and enlighten non-veterans,” says Syeisha Monquesse Byrd, director of engagement programs for Hendricks Chapel. “We are providing the audience a rare opportunity to ask questions that they may have felt awkward asking in any other setting.”

“Separated” is supported by a grant from Campus Compact and the MLK Day of Service.

“’Separated’ represents the beginning of what will be a new phase of engagement with area veterans, active duty military and their families. In the coming months Syracuse Stage seeks to build meaningful and genuine relationships with our military community,” says Hupp. “We start our journey with a theatrical event driven by the experiences of those veterans closest to us here on the Syracuse University campus. Honest and unvarnished, ‘Separated’ offers keen insight into lives lived so close, and yet so far away.”

Syracuse Stage is a Blue Star theater offering discounted tickets to its regular season shows for area veterans and active duty military and their families.

University Selected to Become Pat Tillman Foundation University Partner

pat-tilman_1-220x200The Pat Tillman Foundation has selected Syracuse University as its 15th Pat Tillman Foundation University Partner. Syracuse joins 14 other University Partners, including Columbia University, George Washington University and Georgetown University. The selection process is by invitation only from the Pat Tillman Foundation.

“The staff, faculty and students of Syracuse University are committed to the success of military-connected students and their families,” says Marie Tillman, president and co-founder of the Pat Tillman Foundation. “In the spirit of Pat’s legacy, we are proud to partner with Syracuse to help more student veterans and spouses realize their potential as leaders of their communities and our country.”

Founded in 2004, the Pat Tillman Foundation invests in the future of military veterans and their spouses through academic scholarships—building a diverse community of leaders committed to serving others. Tillman Scholars are selected on the basis of their extraordinary academic and leadership potential, their true sense of vocation and their deep commitment to create positive change. As a University Partner, at least one Syracuse University student veteran each year is guaranteed to become a Tillman Scholar.

Pat Tillman during his football days

Pat Tillman during his football days

“The University is honored to be named as a Pat Tillman Foundation University Partner,” says J. Michael Haynie, Syracuse University’s vice chancellor for strategic initiatives and innovation and executive director of the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF). “The purpose and mission of the Tillman Foundation aligns well with Syracuse University’s commitment to be the best place for veterans, and we’re excited and honored about the opportunity to welcome our first Tillman Scholar to campus.”

The Tillman Scholars application will open Feb. 1, 2017, and will be due on March 1. Interested students should plan to work with Syracuse University’s Center for Fellowship and Scholarship Advising ( on their application materials. Students who have questions regarding the application process can contact Jolynn Parker at

In 2002, Tillman put his National Football League career with the Arizona Cardinals on hold to serve his country. Family and friends established the Pat Tillman Foundation following Tillman’s death in April 2004 while serving with the 75th Ranger Regiment in Afghanistan. Created to honor Tillman’s legacy of leadership and service, the Pat Tillman Foundation invests in military veterans and their spouses through academic scholarships—building a diverse community of leaders committed to service to others.


 College of Engineering and Computer Science Earns ASEE’s Engineering Excellence for Veterans Award

Syracuse University’s College of Engineering and Computer Science has been recognized with a 2016 Engineering Excellence for Veterans Award from the American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE). The award names the College a top military-friendly institution and a “Best for Vets” school, recognized by Military Times and US News and World Report.

“It is a great honor to accept this award, and an even greater honor to enroll and support veterans. Their experience and skills serve them extremely well in engineering and computer science disciplines. We are firmly committed to aligning our College with the needs and aspirations of veterans today and in the future,” says Dean Teresa A. Dahlberg.

Syracuse University’s College of Engineering and Computer Science is part of a campus that has a strong reputation and tradition for supporting veterans. Military Times recently named the University the #1 private school in the country, #3 overall for service members, military veterans and their families.

During the past two years, Syracuse University has worked hard to create a class-leading campus community in support of the nation’s veterans and their families. In this period, the University has seen veteran and military-connected enrollment double; more than $1.2 million has been raised for scholarships and other assistance for student veterans and ROTC cadets; and the ROTC program has grown to its highest enrollment levels in almost a decade.

The University will further its commitment to veterans and their families with the construction of the National Veterans Resource Complex (NVRC), a first-of-its-kind multi-use facility dedicated to advancing academic research, programming and community-connected innovation serving the social, economic and wellness concerns of the nation’s veterans and families. The NVRC will build upon and advance Syracuse University’s already strong national leadership in the veterans’ community, and serve as the center of veteran life on the campus of Syracuse University, in the local community and across Central New York.

How SU Athletics has embraced the university’s quest to be the No. 1 school for veterans

Dino Babers only brought his team to Fort Drum for one day this preseason but said he hopes to expand the trip in the future.Mike Haynie smiled as he walked across the Fort Drum Youth Services gym, surrounded by Syracuse football players teaching military youth the basics of the game.

“Isn’t this great?” he asked rhetorically.

A few hours later on that August day, Haynie, SU’s vice chancellor for strategic initiatives and innovation and executive director of the Institute for Veterans and Military Families, announced the reestablishment of a series between Syracuse and Army, a relationship that ended in 1996 after a century of competition. But SU taking to Fort Drum for football goes deeper than just a football clinic or four games.

SU Athletics has evolved into the chief marketing tool for the university’s initiative to become the No. 1 place for veterans among higher education institutions. People know SU Athletics more than the history of veterans on campus — a pull that’s been embraced by administrators to reach the goal of becoming the standard.

Saturday’s SU football game against North Carolina State is Military Appreciation Day, but the connections between veterans affairs and athletics are seen throughout the year. The football team carries the 10th Mountain Division flag onto the field before some games, the “44” logo on T-shirts mimics the division’s logo and a service member is honored during each game as a tribute, among other examples.

“What’s powerful about the athletic department in the context of executing on other things that are important to Syracuse University, is they’re our brand ambassadors to constituencies that don’t know us for other things,” Haynie said.


The university’s commitment to veterans affairs dates back to World War II when Chancellor William Tolley helped write the G.I. Bill, which doubled college enrollments nationwide. SU had an open enrollment policy for veterans, leading to increased enrollment on the Hill.

Chancellor Kent Syverud brought the connection back to the top of the university’s agenda when he outlined the plan to make SU the best place for veterans during his inauguration speech in April 2014, one of four key platforms laid out in the speech. The first step was promoting Haynie to vice chancellor of veterans and military affairs, a move made a month later.

Since then, the Institute for Veterans and Military Families and the newly-created Office of Veterans and Military Affairs have gained more prominence within the university. A first-of-its-kind National Veterans Resource Complex is also being built with an estimated completion time of spring 2019.

“It’s only appropriate that given it’s the university’s goal to be the No. 1 school for veterans, that athletics plays a role in that,” said SU Director of Athletics John Wildhack, “and is a partner with Mike and his team in trying to establish that.”

Wildhack is on Syverud’s executive leadership team and meets with about eight other members every week to go over the administration’s goals and problems. Just by being at the Monday afternoon meetings, Wildhack is able to understand the broader state of the university, such as enrollment and legal affairs, after taking the reins of the athletic department in July.

“I think it’s important that athletics is a full partner of the entire university,” Wildhack said. “I think one way to do that is for me and my staff to have an understanding of the priorities of the university and how do we play a role in helping the university achieve those priorities.”

Wildhack has embraced the university’s initiative more fully than his predecessors because of his larger understanding, Haynie said.

While Wildhack is new to the administration, one of the main constants of SU Athletics’ relationship with veterans and military affairs has been the football team’s annual training camp trip to Fort Drum, located about an hour and 15 minutes north of Syracuse.

It started five years ago under Doug Marrone, expanded when Scott Shafer was at the helm and regressed to one day this year under Dino Babers because he needed time to install his new system he brought in his first year.

“The more time we spend around our military personnel, the more we understand how much we really need to appreciate them,” Babers said in August, “and anything that we can do to help them in the future in any way, if it’s within my power, we’ll definitely try and do it.”


Wildhack said he and Babers will talk about future expansion with the Fort Drum portion of training camp.

Football players and personnel interact with Fort Drum soldiers and the children of military families during the visits. It’s a way for SU to get out into the community and publicly show its support for the military.

The Fort Drum connection remains the most visible display of the university’s commitment through athletics, with it transpiring into the regular season as well.

“Building a culture is all about symbols and artifacts. Because it is so visible and public, our athletic programs are some of our most prominent symbols,” Haynie said.

Worlds will collide in 2023 when SU football plays future military members in a four-game series against Army. Since 1899, the teams have played 21 times overall with Syracuse holding an 11-10 series lead.

Officials see the series as a way to spread the veteran-focused initiative and market itself as a leader in veterans affairs.

“In the case of West Point, just the proximity – it will be something that’s attractive for alumni in the New York area, our alumni in central New York and this area,” Wildhack said.

Haynie pushed hard for the series along with some other key officials, he said, adding that it’s a “logical rivalry.”

As the university continues to press toward No. 1 — it was recently ranked No. 3 overall by The Military Times — athletics will still be used as a marketing tool to publicly show that support.

“Syracuse has always been a place that’s placed a premium emphasis on being an institution that partners with the military and provides opportunity for our veterans,” Wildhack said. “The fact that we have that in our history and that’s been emphasized by Chancellor Syverud and his team, so I think it’s part of the fabric here.”