University of Notre Dame continues to opens its doors to student veterans

NOW: University of Notre Dame continues to opens its doors to student veterans

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- “So, I was in the Navy, I spent 6 years,” says John Noonan. “I moved to Washington and was stationed on a submarine out there for four years.”

“I was in the army for three years. I was in South Carolina at Fort Jackson for 5 months, and then I spent a year in Korea at Camp Cacey which is up by the DMZ. Then I came home for four to five months then deployed to Iraq and spent some time in Syria as well and 9 months in the middle East,” says Joshua Korhorn.

“I was in the Navy for 6 years,” says Shauna Staples. “I was a nuclear electrician. I spent the majority of time in Norfolk, Virginia. I had a couple schools I had to go to that were in Saratoga Springs, New York and South Caroline so I moved around a few times. “

John Noonan, Joshua Korhorn, and Shauna Staples share one thing in common. They all served our country. But now, the trio shares something else.

“I got accepted to Notre Dame when I was in Iraq, so that was cool,” says Korhorn.  

“There was an officer on board, he was an alumni of Notre Dame, and when I listed my schools and he keeps saying Notre Dame and Notre Dame, so I put it down and ultimately chose this school. I do not regret it one bit, it was probably the best decision of my life,” says Noonan.  

They are students at the University of Notre Dame.

“You spend a certain amount of time serving your country and you get out and there is that big question of what now,” says Staples. “Veteran opportunities can really direct people to their next step in life, whether you do 6 or 20 in the military. I think it is important because they take care of you while you are in, but you just have to figure it out while you are out.”

Since 9/11, just over 5 million Americans have served in the military. 50,000 have been injured in combat, and more than 7,000 have paid the ultimate sacrifice. Nearly 2 million men and women who have served in uniform, will transition back to civilian life.

“These men and women are incredible, they are heroic, they have fought the enemy on the battle field but they are more terrified about their transition about their civilian life than facing the enemy, so this project prepares them mentally but also academically for the rigor of a college environment,” says Regan Jones, Director for Military and Veteran Affairs at Notre Dame.  

Each year, the University of Notre Dame opens its doors to student veterans. Through the warrior scholar project, an academic boot camp that is now in its 5th year, helps those who enlisted right out of high school for the academics they will be faced with at an elite institution. But more so than the opportunities the University provides, it is also what the veterans bring to campus.

From the bigger picture…

“I think seeing people from all of these different backgrounds makes you appreciate what you have been given, but it motivates and inspires you to do at least the best you can do, and give it everything you have, to take advantage of opportunities, that you have been given,” says Korhorn.  

To even just the experiences…

“I ended up doing an Eastern Specific deployment, so I went to Hawaii for a little bit that was our rest and relaxation port,” says Noonan. “Then after that I did an arctic run, so I went to the North Pole to become a blue nose, surface the sub through the ice. Beat the British in a game of rugby and American football. They did beat us in soccer, but 2 to 1 and best of three.”

“Playing the Kurds in soccer, they had a beat-up turf field and we would drive our trucks over and play with them, for hours every night,” says Korhorn.  

It is these stories told on campus, the conversations they spark, the opportunities they create, that show at this university it really is -- God. Country. Notre Dame.

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