Grey H. Edwards, Jr. has served as a distinguished practitioner in nearly every facet of the U.S. Army adult education program, including in combat situations, during his more than 38 years of service for the troops. He risked his life as a military educator on a special three-member team in Baghdad, Iraq, conducting critical educational testing of combat troops, well before civilian educators were allowed in this combat zone. More recently, Edwards has focused his attention on the activation of the Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning, Georgia—one of six war-fighting centers being created with the reorganization of the U.S. Army directed by the Base Closure and Realignment Commission (BRAC).
Throughout his years as a military educator, Edwards has been concerned with raising the profile of military educators within the civilian education community. From 2001 to 2006, he served as the president of the Commission of Military Education and Training, and in 2007, he was elected as the president of the American Association of Adult and Continuing Education (the only military educator ever to serve in that capacity) and planned the association’s Adult Education Conference in Norfolk, Virginia. He is a recipient of the 2009 Major General Kathryn Frost Award for Innovation and Leadership in Adult Education.
Edwards volunteered and was selected four times to serve in war zones called “down range”; in doing so, he has put his life on the line not once but numerous times. Edwards served with the lead party to set up services and programs in the war theaters (Macedonia in 1998, Iraq in November/December 2003, and Afghanistan and Uzbekistan in 2004). Work in combat zones meant doing without many of what most people would consider the essentials of daily life. Traveling by helicopter, he met, counseled and, tested soldiers in Baghdad, Tikrit, Mosel, and Balad, Iraq. He provided oversight for government, contractors, and university personnel. Edwards traveled by HUMVEE convoy, which was a safer way to travel to ensure greater security to meet with newly arriving Education Services Specialists (ESS) in Kabul and received out-briefs by outgoing ESSs. He met with the command group and education staff in K2 Uzbekistan to discuss possible education center moves and future education programs. Serving in the “down range” capacity, Edwards developed a true appreciation of the challenges that face military learners as they pursue their education goals--classroom time, homework, degree planning, administrative paperwork, and out-of-pocket costs. He pulled people together and gained their support for education. Succinctly, Edwards demonstrates a unique ability to cross social, academic, and military cultures with their various restrictions, expectations, and other barriers to facilitate communication, collaboration, and cooperation.
Grey Edwards is a strong proponent for military learners to have maximum choices in adult education program opportunities, including delivery systems. He found that most military people are not typical 18-20 year old kids. They were willing to do good things for their country through their military service. He believes that it is the Army’s responsibility to give them credible opportunities to continue their education, not just-in-time learning to do their military job. He found that with good counseling and advisement, soldiers can develop strong motivation to learn and work through their educational pursuits to succeed in life. His primary message to every American soldier remains, “Be all you can be—the true meaning of adult education.”
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