Reynolds supports UGA Vets

Larry Hone, long-time president of the Reynolds Veterans Association, presents scholarship check to Ted Barco (left) retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, Reynolds Lake Oconee resident and director of UGA’s Student Veteran’s Resource Center.

 

Special to the Lake Oconee News

 

For Mandy Enloe, an Air Force veteran and former U2 crew chief, there was no question she would eventually wind up at the University of Georgia. “I’ve always been a Dawg,” she said.

 

Enloe, one of 250 veterans enrolled at the university, has received a 2017 Reynolds Veterans Association scholarship. She has also been named president of the UGA chapter of Student Veterans of America.

 

Her initial plan was to become an Air Force pilot. She had developed an interest in flying from her dad, a commercial aviator. However the Air Force pilot’s job was not to be. “I was too small to fit correctly into an ejection seat,” she said, “ and that was a deal breaker.”

 

She was assigned to work as an aircraft mechanic on a U2 reconnaissance jet and was usually the only woman in an 800 person unit. She loved it and became a U2 crew chief stationed in South Korea “I’m not your typical ‘girly’ girl,” Enloe says. “I liked working on planes and getting dirty.”

 

One advantage vets bring to their continuing education is a clearer vision of goals and objectives.

 

A Student Veterans Resource Center, directed by Reynolds Lake Oconee resident and retired Lt. Col. Ted Barco, helps vets understand and take advantage of services provided by the university and the community. The center has played an important role in UGA being named the top tier-one university in the nation for its support to student veterans. Though nationally student veterans often struggle in college (54 percent graduation rate) at UGA they graduate at rates consistent with the overall undergraduate rate of 85 percent.

 

“The challenge for veterans,” said Barco, “is as older, non-traditional students they are often pushed in multiple directions at exactly the same time by school, work, family, health and financial pressures. Left alone this has the potential to become one tangled knot of problems. The resource center - veterans helping veterans - offers guidance and assistance.

 

 

 

Steven Thompson, a eight-year member of the Army National Guard, joined the service to help pay for college. He was raised in LaGrange, not far from Ft. Benning, and says “every male on my father's side was Army. A month before I was to start college in accounting at West Georgia my Guard unit called and said we were being deployed. For the next year I was all over Afghanistan as a Signal Corps member working on gathering intelligence. That was totally unexpected but it helped me decide on pursuing a degree in computer science, with a focus on cyber security.”

 

Thompson completed his core education courses at West Georgia and is now a junior at UGA. “I think delaying my start in college turned out to be a good thing,” he said. “I have a better head on my shoulders and know how to set and achieve goals.”

Reynolds Vets Early Supporters

 

The Reynolds Veterans Association (RVA) was one of the early supporters of the student veterans center. Since 2014 the group has assisted the center by providing scholarships, creating a director’s discretionary fund to help students with urgent financial needs and establishing a $100,000 scholarship endowment.

 

The RVA is open to Reynolds Lake Oconee residents who are veterans of any nation. Program funds are provided by veterans living at Reynolds, community members and businesses who participate in an annual fund raising golf tournament.

 

“We’re already starting to gear up for our November tournament,” said Larry Hone, long-time president of the group. “Our many business and community partners can be proud to have helped our nation’s soldiers begin their transition to a meaningful and productive civilian livelihood. During our 11 year history we have raised over $500,000 to benefit veterans’ health and education needs.”

 

David Allen, who hails from Sylvania and has also received a 2017 RVA scholarship, served in the Navy for six years and spent most of his time as a gunner’s mate aboard the USS Denver, a troop transport for Marines.

He had started at UGA following high school and was interested in a career in biology. “But I had trouble with calculus in high school and again in college,” Allen said. “I shifted

majors six times in two years and finally decided this wasn’t going to work. I needed to grow up. I needed to learn about leadership. I wasn’t ready for college.”

 

 

So he joined the Navy, saw the world from Japan to Australia to mainland Asia, matured and developed the leadership skills he needed. As a former student he was again accepted at UGA and enrolled in electrical engineering. This time he not only made it through calculus, he got a job as a peer assistant in the Mathematics Department.

 

Today veterans who are accepted at UGA find help and mutual support similar to what they had experienced in the military. Through the Student Veterans Resource Center everyone at UGA can help veterans learn the ropes, adjust to university life, overcome obstacles and respond to challenges.

 

Adyam Negasi, a Las Vegas native and junior in international affairs, said “UGA is a big school and it was scary to me. I didn’t know anyone here.” The veteran said “one day I had a call from the university. The caller said he understood I was coming to Georgia and wanted me to know there was a Student Veterans Resource Center to help me get oriented and succeed. It made a big difference! I knew somebody.”

 

 

To learn more about UGA’s assistance for student veterans visit their website at dos.uga.edu/ svrc/sva. Learn more about the Reynolds Veterans Association at www.reynoldsveterans.org.

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