Troops to Teachers educates veterans

Miriam Gildea, Contributing Writer

Bravery comes with a price tag. American troops give up their freedoms, time and even their lives to ensure the rest of us enjoy ours.

The hours are long, the stress is high and sadly, employment is sometimes hard to find after returning to civilian life. All too often America is the land of the free at the expense of the brave.

Luckily, however, the program Troops to Teachers recognized and acted upon the job scarcity problem for veterans and provides meaningful employment after military service.

Founded in 1993, this unique program was established to give service members new careers in primary and secondary education. Through counseling, referral services and assistance in obtaining proper licensing, thus far, over 100,000 veterans have successfully made the transition.

This benefits not only “camo covered” heroes but also the children of America. For quite some time, the great shortage of teachers in America has led to overpopulated classrooms and a reduction in quality education, especially in low-income areas. In addition to this, diversity suffers from the continuously dwindling number of men and minority teachers.

The Troops to Teachers program counteracts all these negatives through their program, not only providing quality teachers, but ones of diverse backgrounds. Thus, with overflowing pride, Mercyhurst was selected to host this program, with dedication from Graduate Secondary Education chair Amy Burniston, Ph.D., ED.D.

Mercyhurst is currently one of only three schools in Pennsylvania offering the program that is uniquely tailored to the needs of veterans.

The program is entirely online so it better fits into their busy lives and offers breaks in expenses. Instead of paying the typical $830 per credit, Mercyhurst will only charge $515.

This, often paired with individualized benefits of the GI bill, presents soldiers with an inexpensive opportunity to gain a BS in Secondary Education. Mercyhurst’s Veteran Service coordinator, Christian Constantine, spoke with nothing but praise for the program.

Constantine grounded his position in the idea of being “someone to talk to that speaks their language.”

As an Airforce reservist on a C10 unit for the past 13 years and an active duty serviceman for eight years prior, he understands the challenges veterans face first hand.

He notes the need for a quality degree is immense and that the Troops for Teachers initiative helps soldiers to gain employment.

On campus there are more than 100 student veterans and several off campus as well. Many look to Constantine for advice and direction as they face their next steps.

Currently two students are actively enrolled in this new program and are thriving.

“Both are happy with the program and doing well, since they are used to doing 80 things at once,” Constantine said.

The Hurst embraces this new program and wishes nothing but the best for those currently enrolled and those looking into it. The Troops to Teachers program will undoubtedly become a resource to set up the servicemen and servicewomen for future employment success.