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New program at Palo Alto College hopes to help Army recruits needing a GED

Valentina Barrera-Ibarra
/
TPR
Harlandale High school JROTC during the Presentation of Colors.

The Future Soldier program at Palo Alto College (PAC) welcomed its first students on Wednesday during a signing ceremony on the school's campus.

Devon Richard is a San Antonio native. He signed up to join the GED program and join the U.S. Army.

Richard grew up in Victoria, and he moved back to San Antonio when he was 17. He tried to enlist in the Army, and they told him he needed his GED. Then, a co-worker told him about Alamo Colleges.

“I kept pushing myself back,” Richard said. “'I’m gonna go to the Army. I’m gonna see what it’s like in the Army.' ”

First two participants of the Future Soldier Program Devon Richard and April Lopez posing with their certificate of appreciation diploma.
Valentina Barrera-Ibarra
First two participants of the Future Soldier Program Devon Richard and April Lopez posing with their certificate of appreciation diploma.

Taylor Coffee, coordinator for the high school programs at PAC and an Army reservist, said the idea came into his mind when he was enlisting himself.

Coffee went to a recruiting office when he was 35 years old. He said he sat in the recruiting office and watched as someone was turned away for not having their GED, and it gave him the spark to want to create this program.

“We just need to do better. We need to have a better process,” Coffee said. “We [need to] have a streamlined process to where we can help future soldiers get their GED and enlist at the same time.”

Army Cpt. Yleñia Izaguirre is the company commander for the San Antonio West Army recruiting battalion. She said recruits would come to her after paying for a GED that is not accredited through the Army, so the program helps with eliminating that issue.

“These guys who are already financially suffering, can’t come into the service,” Izaguirre said. “So when Taylor was talking about this, you know, GED program like this is perfect.”

The Future Soldier program is free. Those who want to enlist can meet a recruiter on the PAC campus or walk into an Army recruitment office and ask about the program.

Robert Garza, president of PAC, spoke of his experience growing up in the military household, He said the military did such good for him and it should be an option for others.

He said he hoped the other Alamo Colleges will follow suit and form a program of their own.

“I hope through these types of programs, that we’re able to launch and continue our support of the military in any way that we possibly can,” Garza said.

The Military Desk at Texas Public Radio is made possible in part by North Park Lincoln and Rise Recovery.

Gabriella Alcorta-Solorio is a reporter for Texas Public Radio. She recently graduated from Texas State University with a major in journalism, minoring in women’s studies. She has previously worked as a photojournalist with The Ranger and has reported on Alzheimer’s and dementia using public health data. She plans to focus her career in journalism on women’s rights and human rights.