Shifting mind-set for veterans moving from battlefield to classroom

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Soldier and young man with backpack smiling

By T. Rees Shapiro

Matt Menezes was a decorated combat soldier who served two tours in the valleys of Afghanistan. But one of the toughest challenges of his life came when he decided to leave the Army and prepare for his next deployment: college.

The shift to civilian life can be a stress-filled departure from the discipline and structure of the military. The transition from the battlefield to the classroom, however, can be even more daunting, and veterans say it can be difficult to find support.

“There’s really no help on the Army’s end,” said Menezes, 31. “I was like, ‘Okay, what am I going to do?’ ”

Then Menezes found the Warrior-Scholar Project, a nonprofit mentorship program for enlisted veterans looking to enroll in college for the first time. He took part in a week-long “boot camp” at Yale in 2013, and he’s now studying neuroscience at Dartmouth, planning to head to medical school for a second stint in the Army as a physician. For the past week, he’s been at Georgetown, but this time as a leader helping other veterans make the same leap to college.

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