Plan Turns Green Beret Into a College Degree

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Plan Turns Green Beret Into a College Degree

June 17, 2011|by Christian Lowe

FORT BRAGG, N.C. --- Special Forces Soldiers are some of the smartest, most highly-trained servicemembers in the U.S. military. The elite troops spend years not only learning the lethal art of warfare, but also honing their skills as diplomats, linguists, and cultural experts.
But despite all their training, many are left with few options for employment when it’s time to leave the service.
Recognizing the marketable skills learned in their Special Forces careers, the Army’s Special Warfare Center here has developed a program to apply more of their skills toward a bachelor’s degree.
“The Special Forces Soldier is incredibly well trained, but he’s ‘undereducated,’ ” said Lt. Col. David Walton, the head of regional studies and education at the SWC. “That’s not because he doesn’t want to be. It’s because he’s so busy training and deploying that he doesn’t have time.”
So Walton solicited civilian academia to find programs that could better leverage a special operator’s experience toward college-level credit.
Imagine using a basic land navigation qualification to validate Geography 110 at an undergraduate institution, Walton offered.
Through a rigorous evaluation program conducted by a local community college, SWC officials were able to correlate several of their core training courses with up to 48 credit hours of college-level coursework. If a Soldier wants to enroll in the degree program, he has to take another 17 credit hours of courses through Fayetteville Technical Community College, including English composition, math, and professional research.
Once they’ve completed the community college hours, SF Soldiers receive an associate’s degree and can use that credential to enroll in a North Carolina state college degree program as a junior.
For its part, the Army wanted to get a return on its investment by requiring Soldiers take courses for college credit that help them as Green Berets.
During missions, SF team members often have to brief officers and staff on operations, but the SWC doesn’t offer a course that teaches public speaking, for example. So Walton made it a requirement for the associate’s degree program.
“Here’s a classic way that an education for college students can help you be a better special operator,” Walton said.
The program is also open to Green Berets returning to the schoolhouse between deployments, or even civilian contractors at the school who are SF alums.
“I knew a college degree would be important once I retired and even while I’m still in for promotions,” said Sgt. 1st Class Mike Gruver, a communications NCO and Special Forces operator who’s studying for a degree in applied physics. “This is really the first time I’ve ever had an opportunity realistically to get a college degree instead of just floundering.”
While it might not seem like much of a rest after years of deployments and high-level warfare schools, Gruver said the schedule is focused on helping Soldiers knock out the associate’s degree requirements in less than three months.
“It was very time consuming. … It was a bit of an adjustment for my family,” Gruver said. “But it was no worse than being back on a team.”
And with as much as two years towards a bachelor’s degree completed well before retirement, the program is worth all the extra time and effort.
Some operators “can go from having no college degree at all to within a very short time having their bachelor’s degree,” Gruver said. “And all they have to do is go through this program to get that degree to tie it all in.”
It seems like it only benefits the Bragg guys, unless the college does distance learning.
I am a little bit confused, is this in effect now? How do I do this? There has been no email traffic going out about it. This would greatly help as I am about to transition to the guard.
When I left active duty in '72 after 8 years active duty. I had 60 semester hours from USAFI and the CLEP exam. Monterey Peninsula College wouldn't accept either and all that I got was a waiver from taking the health course. I took German 110 (I speak German) because the college wouldn't grant credit to native speakers or graduates of DLI.

The 1st day of class, My German teacher asked a question in German of the whole class...I answered her in German and she asked me where I had learned it. I replied that I had learned it as a child from our German maid, that I took German for four years in HS and that I had attended DLI to learn German. She exercised her perogative as the German Department Chair, and gave me 16 semester hours of credit. I completed MPC in one year!

I later transferred to Golden Gate University which gave me 127 Semester units of credit but it was all lower division.

Using the GI Bill, I was able to get a BS in Criminal Justice and a Masters in Public Administration (MPA)

I wish that I had the opportunity to get credit for my SF training!
I wish that this was more of a priority for the powers that be for all services. When I completed my 8 months of schoolhouse training at Ft. Belvoir I had basic geodetic surveying, cartography and terrain analysis education which turned out to be just under 65 lower level credits. None of it pertained to the computer skills and cartography, however I believe if there was a review in place each time the course curriculum is updated it would be more in line with credits received on the civilian side.
Very cool, I just dropped this link to a bunch of buddies of mine who fit the mold. I received most of my lower division GE credits for my schools at Bragg among others towards a degree but nothing totally inclusive. None were counted toward my major either.
an Associates degree in the foreign language the SF soldier trained on would be great as well.
4-6 months of 5 days a week for 6+ hours a day of language training FAR exceeds the time spent in a classroom while working on a 2 year AA.
I find myself highly frustrated that 1) I didn't start college classes till I was a 34 YO GySgt and 2) how few Marines take advantage of the educational opportunities available through the military. Unfortunately, it's going to take the senior enlisted leadership making a change in the way they do business to get the young guys going to school. If someone had dragged me into the base education office when I was a wet-behind-the-ears PFC, I could've retired with a doctorate paid for by the military.
To add on to your 2nd point, 0699 , I was amazed at how many people didn't sign up for the MGIB or the Post 9/11 bill. They had "better things to do" with $100/month for 12 months... :rolleyes:
To this day it astounds me how many guys get out and don't use their education benefits, I mean they PAY YOU to get a education!!! You mean your too busy enjoying the fact your out to not get paid to get a degree? That's just stupid honestly.
post 9/11 deff gives me a really good chunk of cash that helps! sadly my college doesn't recognize any of the courses I took in the military with anything on their curriculum so my smart transcripts counted for absolutely nothing.
I'm doing it right now through distance learning classes online.
I'm doing it right now through distance learning classes online.
I really like the fact that the changes to the Post 9/11 GI Bill included paying people, albeit a smaller amount, who decide to only take online classes. It really opens up a lot more opportunities.
I finished this initiative in August 2012. Being cadre it was super easy to complete. Working on B.S. now but not with any of the 4 year schools that fully articulate this degree. Thomas Edison state college and Excelsior college, all good schools, are more liberal on their credit transfer.