Former OCC student-veteran Will McKinney’s personal story of tragedy and triumph has earned him high praise from the Central New York Veterans Parade and Expo. McKinney has been honored as a recipient of the “Share Your Stories, Honor Our Heroes” award.
The story of McKinney’s remarkable journey was presented to the public at the 2014 CNY Veterans Parade and Expo at the New York State Fairgrounds, an event sponsored by New York State Assemblymen Williams Magnarelli. In September 2011 McKinney was a Sergeant in the United States Army’s 10th Mountain Division serving in Afghanistan.
His life changed forever when he stepped on a land mine and lost his left leg below his knee. McKinney would be flown back to Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, MD where he was fitted with a prosthetic limb and underwent countless hours of physical therapy.
One year later McKinney was well enough to enroll in classes at OCC. He credited Keith Stevenson, Program Coordinator in the College’s Office of Veterans’ Affairs, with making his transition a smooth one. “Keith helped me with everything. Coming out of the military and getting into college is overwhelming.” Stevenson, who is also a veteran, understands how difficult the process can be. “For most of our veterans this is their first time in college. They don’t have their parents helping them get things done. I take veterans through the entire enrollment process and give them as much help as possible.” Thanks to the hard work of Stevenson and his staff OCC has been named a “Military Friendly School” by G.I. Jobs Magazine for four consecutive years.
As for McKinney he has moved on from OCC and is now at the Colorado School of Mines where he is majoring in engineering. Despite what he went through while serving his country McKinney remains upbeat and positive. “I have a lot of friends who lost way more than I did. They don’t make excuses and I shouldn’t either.”