BOISE -- There are 14 new Wyakin Warriors in Idaho after a ceremony on the Statehouse steps Thursday.
State Senator Marv Hagedorn is a retired Naval officer. The Meridian Republican says America has always done a great job of putting fine soldiers into combat, but a bad job of helping those soldiers assimilate back into civilian life after the fighting is over. The Wyakin Warrior Foundation is helping to change that.
"A Wyakin is a Native American term for a guardian spirit," said Hagedorn. "The objective of this program is to become the guardian spirit of these heroes that are coming home."
The foundation helps severely wounded or sick veterans transition from the military to a civilian career through education, mentoring, professional development and networking.
Gov. Butch Otter also spoke at the ceremony. "As these warriors have spent their time in the defense of liberty, in the fight for freedom - then it's now our responsibility as they do come home to make sure that they come home to welcome arms."
Eric Danielson was a combat flight medic and injured when his chopper hit some power lines and crashed in a river. "This program's extremely valuable. It's a band of brothers."
Now, he's a Wyakin Warrior and pursuing a master's degree at Boise State University. "As an undergraduate student it was extremely difficult to try and make it through on my own. And, with this program you've got the support with BSU and the community, and it's the only way you can make it through, I think."
Danielson also says seeing the other Wyakin Warriors gives him even more confidence that he can overcome his challenges, as they have. "It gives me renewed hope. I hope that I'll be able to follow in their footsteps and be able to give something back to the community."
Otter says whether it was a trade school, university, or college, that 100 percent of the Idahoans in this program got their degree, or continue to pursue their degree.