WILKES-BARRE, Pa. — To help veterans return to civilian life and ease the transition to higher education, Wilkes University is creating a support team and has hired a coordinator for it.
The university has hired AmeriCorps VISTA worker Emily McGaha to help carry out the work of the Inter-Organizational Veteran Educational Support Team. Her position is supported by a grant from Pennsylvania Campus Compact, and Wilkes is one of just 23 colleges in Pennsylvania receiving a grant to fund an AmeriCorps VISTA position for the upcoming academic year.
McGaha, a recent graduate of the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, will be a full-time worker in Wilkes University’s Civic Engagement Office, paid by the Corporation for National and Community Service.
“In essence, she really is a volunteer in service to America. She doesn’t get a traditional paycheck. She’s giving of herself and of her time to creative programs here that have a huge impact,” Megan Boone Valkenburg, coordinator of the Wilkes University Civic Engagement Office, said in a news release.
McGaha receives a small living allowance and an education award at the end of her service, Valkenburg explained. Her work will be part of the INVEST project, a collaborative effort between Wilkes University and community partners designed to mitigate risk factors that hinder veterans in higher education. Community partners will include AMVETS, the VA Hospital, Veterans Center of Scranton and Tri-Vets Community Action Center, among others.
McGaha will also support Wilkes Veterans’ Counselor Lt. Col. Mark Kaster and the Wilkes University Veterans Council. She will help develop social programs for veterans and provide assistance in recruiting, training and monitoring volunteers.