Bill Graydon calls them “gateway classes,” designed to help veterans transition from life in uniform to the academic world at State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota.
The first gateway class, written communications 1, should make for interesting reading if the vets write down their experiences and feelings from serving during the post-9/11 era.
“The whole goal is to transition and then mainstream in a supportive environment,” said Graydon, a veterans adviser at SCF.
The initiative, which makes its debut at the Venice campus this fall and likely come to the larger Bradenton campus in the spring, could eventually lead to other vet-only classes, including English, intermediate algebra and fundamentals of speech communications.
Enrollment will be kept small at about 15 per class. The small class size, and common experience of studying with others who served in platoons, companies, or onboard ships and military aircraft should hopefully make the veteran more comfortable in sharing experiences.
“When you get a group like that together,” Graydon said of the large influx of veterans re-entering civilian life, “you can accomplish the impossible. The potential is phenomenal.”
Graydon estimates about 100 vets attend classes on the Venice campus, with more than double that number on the Bradenton campus.
“It’s kind of jarring to come directly out of the military into an academic environment,” said Graydon, who served in the U.S. Army as a combat medic from 1998 to 2005.
The new initiative is not to segregate veterans, but to help them transition into classes with other students, he said.
Chad Anderson, a 36-year-old U.S. Marine veteran, is one of the first to sign up for the first all-vet class.
“I like the idea. It’s for veterans,” Anderson said.
The first classes will be offered 12:30-1:50 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays at SCF Venice. Anyone interested in registering must get a permit from SCF Veteran Services. For information, call 941-408-1446.