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Law gives wounded airmen a degree opportunity

Oct. 1, 2012 - 09:07AM   |   Last Updated: Oct. 1, 2012 - 09:07AM  |  
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About 750 wounded airmen who have left the Air Force can now complete their associate of applied science degree at the Community College of the Air Force, a college official said.

The 2012 National Defense Authorization Act expands the CCAF's degree program to former or retired enlisted service members categorized as seriously wounded, ill or injured at the time of their separation from active duty, said Donald House, associate dean of academic programs at the college.

Until now, the college could not offer a degree to any airmen who have left the service, House said.

That meant wounded warriors who retired or separated before earning their CCAF degree would have to try to transfer their credits to another college, even if they were just a few hours shy of their associate degree.

"Most colleges have a cap — they don't transfer everything," House explained. "In many cases, the folks, when they don't get their degree, they have to transfer the credit and a lot of schools will say, ‘Well we'll transfer in maybe 20 hours.' If they're a real lenient school, they might say, ‘We'll transfer in 30 hours.' And you still have take another 30 hours because it's 60 hours usually to get an [associate] degree."

Stepping back in

Now wounded warriors can pick up their CCAF degree where they left off, House said.

"They don't have to start from ground zero with another school," House said in an email. "They now have the opportunity to enhance their personal and professional growth by earning a [regionally accredited] academic credential — the CCAF AAS degree."

Students can complete college requirements by distance learning and by transferring credit from accredited colleges and universities or college-level national exams, he said.

"We have one individual right now who has just a speech course to take — oral communication, so he has 61 hours of credit but now he's a wounded warrior," House said. "Previous to this, he would never be able to finish his AAS degree even though he only had one course to take. Now he's able to do that."

The law gives wounded warriors 10 years to get their degree to give them time to recuperate, House said. That means wounded airmen who separated between Sept. 12, 2001, and Dec. 30, 2011, have until Dec. 30, 2021, to complete their degree requirements.

Former airmen who meet eligibility requirements may contact their local Air Force education office for more information or contact the Community College of the Air Force at registrar.ccaf@us.af.mil or 334-649-5093.

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