It should be a familiar environment for Jeff Foley: His office is in a building emblazoned with the word “headquarters” and there are cannons nearby.
“I’m right at home,” the retired brigadier general said outside his office at Augusta State University. In fact, two of the cannons were once part of a four-cannon set at the Augusta Arsenal while the other two were sent to Fort Gordon, where Foley was once the commanding general.
They serve as an appropriate backdrop because as ASU merges with Georgia Health Sciences University, Foley is taking on a bigger role as vice president of military and global affairs. He will work part-time for the clinical system and for ASU as he seeks to help grow the outreach to the military and others.
One complaint the military has about universities in general is the cumbersome application process and the accompanying difficulty applying their educational benefits. But Augusta State recently was granted approval to join the Army Continuing Education System.
“This means that now any soldier throughout the world who wants to apply to Augusta State now can go to the GoArmyEd.com portal and fill in a universal application that soldiers understand, that advisers and Army education centers understand and can facilitate their application process,” Foley said.
The school is also working to make it easier for military personnel to get credit for training and education received as part of their service. But to really get more military, the school is going to have to venture into online programs, he said.
“We have to have programs that are useful to the target audience, whether they are physically present here in the CSRA or whether they can access our academic institution virtually online,” he said. “Augusta State has not had to date, any significant Internet virtual education opportunities. But we’re changing that. We know we have to, not just for the military but for so many people who might want to come to school here.”
It would also allow Augusta State to provide education to bases overseas, which often have an education center and those eager to continue their education.
“Everyone values education, and the Army provides so many financial incentives to get educated,” Foley said.
Reaching out also means offering help for returning veterans with health problems they might have incurred as part of their service.
“We have thousands and thousands of veterans coming back from the wars, many of them wounded, many of them seriously injured, and how can we help them?” he said. “How can we make it easy for them to gain access to Augusta State University and provide an opportunity to take advantage of the GI Bill and the funding opportunities that are available today?”
It also means creating more partnerships with the military, said David Hefner, the executive vice president for clinical affairs at GHSU.
“There’s a lot of work that we partner with the military on,” he said. “But it hasn’t necessarily been thought through from a wholistic, strategic sense.”
It could mean taking advantage of expertise already in the clinical system in orthopedics, for instance, or neuroscience to help treat injuries and potentially provide greater opportunities for research and education, Hefner said.
“When you marry those components together, you could imagine that we could help the military a lot in caring for the veteran population and their families that are coming back home,” he said. It could potentially mean programs not just for Georgia but nationally and internationally, Hefner said.
It could also mean reaching out to help those who might be moving back to a hometown far from Veterans Affairs or military health care, Foley said.
“All of those guys and gals who have committed themselves to the military, they have suffered as a result of their service to our nation, how do we stay in touch with them?” he said. “How do we make sure they don’t get lost in the crowd?”