EMMITSBURG - Army Spc. Adam Campbell knows he isn't the average college student.

Instead of being straight out of high school, Campbell said he's a wounded veteran with a multitude of mental and physical difficulties.

While serving a tour in Iraq in 2005, where he was severely injured by a roadside bomb and a rocket-propelled grenade blast, college was one of the furthest things from his mind.

"I was thinking about surviving," Campbell said. "Not my future."

The future is exactly what he's thinking about now, though, and he said he's getting a great amount of support from Veterans Affairs Acquisition Academy in Frederick and Mount St. Mary's University, which are teaming up to offer the Warriors to Workforce program.

Campbell is one of 23 veterans who make up the program's inaugural class.

A convocation ceremony was held for the veterans, who started classes in January, in the Patriot Hall on Mount St. Mary's campus Friday.

Lisa Doyle, chancellor of the VA Acquisition Academy, said the veterans in the program hail from 10 states, have seven Purple Hearts and two Bronze Stars between them and a combined 170 years of military service in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines.

The veterans, who all have a service-related disability that could impair employment, were recruited from places such as Walter Reed Army Medical Center and then went through an application process.

She called the veterans first-class pioneers who are embarking on a new path in their lives.

Most of the veterans have had little or no education past high school, Doyle said, so this opportunity is a life changing one for them.

During the three-year program the veterans will be trained to be procurement specialists, a career field that is currently in high demand, said program coordinator Edward Nolan.

The veterans take contracting and leadership classes at the academy, where professors from Mount St. Mary's also come to teach business classes.

University President Thomas Powell said taking part in the veterans' education is an honor for the school.

"These are all warriors who have served our country well," Powell said. "Many of them never thought they'd ever be in college so it's very brave of them to recreate themselves in this way."

Karl Einolf, a Mount professor who is teaching the veterans business math, also called the opportunity an honor for all those involved and said the veterans are a unique group who are committed to the program and to one another.

"In every class you have top performers and those who need more help," Einolf said. "This group has really jelled quickly as a team where the upper end students are more than willing to help the others."

All 23 veterans are extremely motivated, dedicated and excited to be in the program, Einolf said. He's just as excited to teach them.

"It's really nice to have the opportunity to give back and help these veterans who have given so much to others," Einolf said.

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