Media Contact:

Chelsea Miller, Director of Community Engagement, Wyakin Foundation

(208) 853-6001 |

BOISE, Idaho; March 17, 2023 — On March 16th, 2023, fifteen veterans received $1,000 each to support their educational goals as part of the Idaho Veterans Academic Grant Unification (IVAGU). The winners were recognized during an awards ceremony held at the Boise State Alumni Center.

The IVAGU is the result of collaboration between the Idaho Veterans Network, Military Order of the Purple Heart Chief Joseph Chapter 509, Ride for 22, and the Wyakin Foundation. The four entities raised $15,000 to be given as fifteen (15) individual $1,000 grants. Veterans pursuing a full-time student load in the spring 2023 semester at a college or university located within the Treasure Valley were eligible to apply. Applications closed on February 15th, 2023.

The inaugural Idaho Veterans Academic Grant Unification recipients are:

Brian Bayley, United States Air Force, College of Western Idaho

Brandon Boller, United States Army, College of Western Idaho

Maxwell Curtis, United States Army, Boise State University

Hector Diaz, United States Army, College of Western Idaho

Esteban Gonzales, United States Army, Boise State University

Sean LaNier, United States Army, Northwest Nazarene University

Leah McCloughan, United States Army, Eagle Gate College

Chris Pezzoni, United States Army, Treasure Valley Community College

Sandra Rollings, United States Army, Boise State University

Justice Salvey, United States Navy, Boise State University

Jackson Shauger, United States Army, College of Western Idaho

Amy Valadez, United States Navy, Northwest Nazarene University

Bridget Wintrode, United States Army, College of Western Idaho

“The intent of the academic grant is to move away from specific learning institutions and allow the veteran community to directly impact the veterans navigating their educational plans,” said George Nickel, Director of Veteran and Student Affairs at the Wyakin Foundation and a member of the Military Order of the Purple Heart.

Veterans interested in applying for next year’s IVAGU should email Applications are expected to re-open in January 2024.

The Wyakin Foundation, Idaho Veterans Network, Ride for 22, and the Military Order of the Purple Heart Chapter 509, hope new community partners will join them in creating lasting change for Idaho veterans by joining this collaborative effort. Interested groups should contact or call 208.853.6001.

About Wyakin Foundation

The Wyakin Warrior Foundation was founded in 2010 by Jeff Bacon, Rebecca Bacon, and Idaho State Senator Marv Hagedorn to provide a pathway for wounded and injured post-9/11 veterans to transition through education into careers of their choosing. In August 2011, the Wyakin Foundation officially welcomed its first class of Wyakin Warriors into the program. Over those years, the organization has served well over 140 veterans. The Wyakin Foundation is recognized as one of the most comprehensive and effective programs of its kind in the nation. In 2022, the Wyakin Foundation was named Non-profit of Excellence by the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce and was an Idaho Philanthropy Day Outstanding Nonprofit Honoree. The need for the program continues as hundreds of thousands of veterans face the challenges of transition from active-duty service to the civilian community each year.

About the Idaho Veterans Network:

Founded in 2009, Idaho Veterans Network (IVN) has become a respected, non-profit provider of veteran services, working tirelessly to help provide solutions to the many challenges our veterans face. IVN supports veterans through peer-to-peer service and interaction, direct financial assistance, educational scholarships, and the free distribution of a state-wide veteran newspaper dedicated to military culture and experience. In addition to providing leadership and support for broader initiatives within the veteran community, IVN also helps veterans identify local support organizations best equipped to help with their specific needs.

About Ride for 22:

Ride For 22 seeks to serve as a living memorial to our fallen, increase public knowledge and awareness of PTS, share helpful resources, provide support and comfort to the grieving families left behind.

About Military Order of the Purple Heart, Chief Joseph Chapter 509:

The mission of the Military Order of the Purple Heart is to foster an environment of goodwill and camaraderie among combat wounded veterans and promote patriotism. We serve all the beautiful state of Idaho including Boise, Middleton, Caldwell, Star, Idaho Falls, Meridian, Post Falls and more.

Our goals include promoting patriotism, educating our members, and engaging them in important legislative initiatives that we work on for our members and all veterans. Most importantly, we strive to facilitate and provide all available assistance that veterans and their families may need.