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USCU FALL15 Magazine Online

Navigating Back Into Civilian Life HOW A WEEK IN WYOMING ON HORSEBACK HELPED ONE AIR FORCE VETERAN BY CAROLYN FARR SHANESY ‘95 Returning to school was the easy part. Returning to civilian life has been a struggle. Air Force veteran Blake Draper will graduate from USC Upstate in Blake Draper ‘15 December with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, but he’s not sure what he will do next. “Military life was easy to navigate,” Draper said. “You didn’t have to worry about rent and other bills, there was a doctor on base if you needed it, and you knew what to expect on most days.” He said he turned to Upstate Warrior Solution for help in transitioning to life as a civilian and in return had the opportunity to do something that had been a lifelong dream. “I’ve traveled a good bit with the Air Force,” Draper said. “But, I never had an opportunity to just rough it out in the wilderness.” In August, through a partnership between Greenville Health System, Upstate Warrior Solution and the U.S. Forest Service, the Boiling Springs native had an opportunity to spend a week in Wyoming working with his hands, experiencing nature up close and talking to fellow veterans. Kevin McBride, former director of GHS’ Military and Government Liaison Office and now with Upstate Warrior Solution, said that it’s important “we help our warriors find jobs, educational opportunities and other services, but sometimes they still need and crave adventure, too.” McBride, a former Marine who graduated from USC Upstate in 1998, Draper and Travis Cox, a Marine from Seneca, spent time volunteering with U.S. Forest Service rangers to build and improve trails in the Bridger-Teton National Forest and Wilderness in Moran, Wyoming. Making their way through the Grand Tetons National Park and Yellowstone Park, the group of veterans helped restore service trails for the U.S. Forest Service. Fall 2015 Upstate Magazine 8 


USCU FALL15 Magazine Online
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