As the United States Army is reviewing whether to continue a program that sends wounded veterans to Kansas University for graduate study, a KU office is looking to support those veterans and their families with a new scholarship.
KU’s Wounded Warrior Initiative is a partnership between KU and the U.S. Army. The Army provides funds for wounded soldiers to pursue master’s and doctoral studies in areas that support research and academic programs.
Michael Denning, a retired Marine colonel and director of KU’s Office of Professional Military Graduate Education, said the Army, which handles much of the administration and selection of the soldiers who participate in the program, has placed the program under review and hasn’t recruited new soldiers yet for the 2013 school year.
The soldiers receive tuition and fees and an additional stipend from the U.S. Army and must apply for admission to KU.
U.S. Army Major Michael Flatoff is a spokesman for the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, which oversees the Wounded Warrior Education Initiative.
“Right now, the program is undergoing evaluation to see if it meets the original intent,” Flatoff said. “It was a pilot program.”
Flatoff said he didn’t have a timeline for when the review could be completed.
After completing their degrees, the soldiers commit to take a position in the Army for six years.
Active-duty soldiers remain in the Army, and those who have retired because of their injuries take civilian positions, often as instructors.
The program was launched in 2008, and, since then, 12 soldiers have graduated from the program. Many are teaching at Fort Leavenworth’s Command and General Staff College, but others are serving at Fort Sam Houston, Fort Lee and the Pentagon.
Any decisions on the program’s future won’t affect the soldiers already at KU and enrolled in the program, Denning said.
But his office is helping coordinate a new scholarship fund that wounded warriors and their spouses or caregivers would be eligible to receive.
The office has raised about $30,000 so far, partially through the help of a new veterans’ alumni organization at KU. A fund has been set up through the KU Endowment Association, and the office is hoping to raise $400,000. Kansas Athletics is donating a portion of the proceeds from a Kansas-Missouri “Operation: Victory” T-shirt to the fund.
“We would like to be able to offer a renewable scholarship,” with a full ride and a stipend that would provide a salary similar to what a graduate teaching assistant would receive, said Randy Masten, program assistant in the military graduate education office.
The scholarship would be available for undergraduate or graduate study, Masten said.
“Particularly when you’re dealing with wounded warriors, they’re dealing with things that other students may not have to deal with,” he said.