Soldiers get second chance at academy

Beth Rumsey, Staff Writer

“The state is proud to be a host to the first Patriots Academy,” said Indiana Lt. Governor Becky Skillman, at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Patriot Academy on Wednesday, August 26. The Patriot Academy, a pilot program of the National Guard, is located in the Muscatatuck Urban Training Center in Butlerville, the first of its kind in the nation.

The National Guard Patriot Academy gives high school drop outs an opportunity to earn their high school diploma while building upon skills learned in basic training. Colonel Perry Sarver, Commandant of the Patriot Academy, summed up the program in two words, “Do over” and a “second chance.”

According to Col. Sarver, the program changes the lives of the soldiers forever. While attending the academy, they will get a diploma, build on military skills, and put in a minimum of eight hours of community service to learn how to give back to the community.

“The mission is to educate and train them to be the best citizen soldiers in the Army,” said Col. Sarver. The unit gains a highly competent soldier.

Soldiers at the Patriots Academy will receive full-time military pay and benefits as they receive their education and training. Students attend basic training before reporting to the academy. Each student attending the Patriots Academy will have ten or fewer credit hours remaining for graduation; must be between the ages of 17-20 years old and have been out of school for at least six months.

The first class to graduate was made up of 48 students from across the country. Upon completion, they will attend advanced training and then return to their home states for service in their Army National Guard Units.

In addition to earning credits needed for graduation, students will earn college credit for courses that meet the dual credit criteria. These credits will be transferred to a college in their home state.
The academy includes three dorms as well as the school house, dining facility and chapel. Each dorm comes equipped with computer study labs, laundry facilities and recreation rooms.

Indiana Ninth District Congressman Baron Hill encouraged the graduates to believe that they can realize their goals. “Those who fail find an excuse,” he said,” and those who succeed, find a way.”