Earlier this month, President Obama announced the withdrawal of more than 30,000 troops from Afghanistan. With so many service men and women coming home, a local college is doing its part to help them find a career when they return. YNN’s Matt Hunter reports.
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – In his two deployments to Iraq with the U.S. Marines, Corporal Robert Kong had no trouble keeping busy.
"There's always something going on, you're given orders, you're given a directive, you certainly have a direction," said Kong.
It wasn't until he left the service in 2006 and returned to his native Albany that he struggled to find a course of action for his career.
"Coming home, you're kind of on your own,” Kong said. “It's up to you to self motivate yourself to go out and get an education, find a career, find a job."
Kong ultimately earned a bachelor's degree at Siena and is now working toward an MBA at SUNY Empire State College.
Earlier this month, Empire State College announced a new program designed to tackle the challenge Kong and so many other vets face upon returning home.
"There are many obstacles face when they're coming out of military service,” said Tai Arnold, the college’s acting dean of graduate studies. “We don't do enough to recognize what they already have and bring to the table."
Dubbed the "Credit Where Credit is Due Program," vets can now earn college credits for their past military experience while pursuing an MBA. It's founded on the bedrock that many skills learned on the battlefield directly translate to the business world.
"I think one of the biggest things our service members bring is their ability to get things done and to solve hard problems," Arnold said.
"Whether you're in a military unit stuck in a fox hole somewhere or you're working with a team on a project, there are striking similarities between the two," Kong said.
The college, which offers courses in 35 locations across New York, is paying for the program with a $530,000 grant from the GMAC Management Education for Tomorrow fund. Already, vets like Kong are showing interest.
"Understanding and having structure and stability is important to help them be successful as they advance outside of the military," Kong said.
The program launches in September.
For information on how to apply, visit SUNY Empire State College’s official website at choose.esc.edu .