First on 9: Syracuse University’s new pipeline program for CNY high schoolers enlisting in the military

Local News

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Decades of research conducted by those at the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University shows that veterans have a tough time transitioning out of the service. This is especially the case after their first term of service.

“We’ve seen the data from our own IVMF [research] just how stressful that transition process can be,” said Jessica Calhoun, Assistant Director of Veteran and Military Admissions at SU. “You don’t know what you’re going to be doing. You’re returning to civilian life, not the regimented experience that you had.”

Given those experiences, Syracuse University has created a brand new pipeline program called Operation Veteran Promise. It’s specifically for high school seniors heading into the military right after school. When they get into this program, they will have a guaranteed spot at SU when they come home from that first deployment.

The following requirements apply:

  • You must be from one of the following Central New York counties: Cayuga, Cortland, Jefferson, Lewis, Madison, Oneida, Onondaga, Oswego, Tompkins, and Wayne Counties.
  • You must have a GPA of 3.0 or higher.
  • You must be heading into the service after high school.

The program only applies after the first term of service. It grants students general admission, but not admission into a specific school at SU.

Who is the perfect candidate?

“There are a lot of high school students that don’t really feel ready to jump right into college the moment they graduate high school,” Calhoun said. “They’re thinking about, ‘Do I have financial concerns about paying for college? Do I have a family legacy that I really want to uphold and join the military?’ And so maybe it’s, college isn’t right for you right now but it is going to be right for you in a few years.”

Calhoun says they have a dedicated admissions team that will keep in touch with the students while they are deployed, making sure their transition home would be smooth.

Charlie Poag, once a combat camera marine and former President of the Student Veterans Organization, says a program like this will be life-changing.

“When I re-enlisted out of my first four years, a lot of it had to do with the fact that I did not have a plan, I had no idea what I really wanted to do,” Poag said. “I didn’t know if I wanted to get out and, I re-enlisted because I didn’t exactly know what I wanted to do, and I didn’t know if I had the opportunity to really do anything else at that time.”

The program will start out small, but those involved hope to one day help people outside of CNY.

“You’re going to be here at Syracuse and you’re going to be part of our community. We have the resources to support you, we have amazing academic programs that are here to launch you into whatever career field you want to be in,” Calhoun said.

To get involved, you can email ovp@syr.edu or call those at the Office of Transfer and Veteran Admissions at 315-443-3611.

High schoolers can also try to work with their school guidance counselor or a local military recruiter.

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