Military experience is often valued by employers, but for a long time the training received by men and women in the service was not considered as valuable as civilian classroom learning, especially in degree-granting programs.
Herzing University has launched two programs that make it easier for veterans to earn degrees by awarding credit for military experience.
First was the Vet2RN initiative, for military medics. That is now joined by Vet2IT, for vets who worked in information technology. The IT program was developed after seeing the success of the nursing program.
Vet2IT is available on Herzing’s 11campuses, including in Kenosha, and online.
“The Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs had cast out a net, looking to help get military medics coming out of the field prepared (for a job) within a year,” said Bill Vinson, campus president for the Herzing Madison campus. “It was part of a grant from the National Governors Association that had three key areas, one of those being nursing and health care.
“We looked at our LPN (licensed practical nurse) program. We looked at what a military medic does, and we thought we could make it work (with Herzing’s nursing program).”
Herzing looked at the skills and military training required to serve as a medic and matched them, where appropriate, to existing courses.
It would enable the student to complete an associate’s degree in about a year.
“Military medics were coming from all over the state,” to take part in the program, Vinson said. “We got a great response, but I met with my nursing director and said, ‘This is great, but we can do more.’”
IT logical extensionBased on input from employers. Herzing officials decided to pursue a similar program for veterans who had worked in information technology roles.
Said Vinson: “We went back to the Department of Veterans Affairs, and they were excited about the idea. We worked with one of their captains on transcripts to (match up a veteran’s service training) with an IT program.
“It took longer with IT. We looked at job classifications in the military. We found the (equivalent) of a network technician in the civilian world. That’s where we started. Vets could slide into 24 to 28 credits in our program.
“On top of that, the student may have been promoted in the military, in which case they will have really accumulated a lot of credit. We can get that up into the 30s of transfer credits.”
The Vet2IT program was born. The next class starts July 7.
“What impresses me about this program is Herzing’s ability to look beyond the traditional academic approach that credits have to be earned at a post-secondary institution to be relevant,” said Jeff Hill, president of the Kenosha campus. “There’s a significant shift in education toward different learning modalities, such as competency-based education.
“I had the pleasure of working with veterans who have come back with tangible, demonstrable skills that, until recently, didn’t do much from an academic standpoint. They had to start from zero, despite their service and the competencies that had developed.
“This is, in a small way, a way to give back to them for their service, and to help them earn their (degree) in a much shorter time frame and get them working in their field.”
For more information on the Vet2IT or Vet2RN programs, visit herzing.edu/kenosha.