Grover Craft, Jefferson College of Health Science’s Veteran Student Affairs Coordinator, joined the Navy at age 23 with the intention of staying in just long enough to qualify for education dollars. Little did he anticipate that he would be promoted up through the ranks, ending up with a 30-year career and an officer rank of Commander. His Navy years were spent in Norfolk, Virginia, as well as Pensacola and Orlando, Florida, and Washington, D.C., working with sailors in a variety of capacities. His passion was seeing them advance. Over three decades, he saw the progress in Navy personnel becoming more inquisitive, more educated and smarter.
“I have had sailors who have had master’s degrees,” Craft remembers. “They came to me with solutions to problems, where normally I wouldn’t have asked them.”
Craft ended his career as Chief Executive Officer/Commanding Officer in Norfolk, managing a staff of 100, as well as an average of 800 transient personnel. The latter group was either waiting transfer to other Navy locations or was being separated.
He had also been the officer in charge of a correctional custody unit in the Norfolk Naval Brigg, where he “remotivated them to finish their enlistment.” He had a 95 percent success rate doing so, varying his tactics from talking and listening to them to giving them physical exertion that showed them they could accomplish the tasks they were given. One young soldier, who didn’t seem to respond to any remotivating strategies, was finally put on the phone with his mother, who “remotivated” him more than any other tactic that Craft had come up with.
Craft feels very strongly about veterans in general, saying that his years of service made him accountable. Now, he feels that accountability towards veterans and wants to help our students transition to civilian and school life.
“They did their part, and when they finish, we should take care of them,” he said. “Student veterans are my family. I am here to talk to them one-on-one, trade sea stories, and help them feel that my office is Veteran Central. I will make phone calls for them, reach out to my contacts, and do whatever it takes to help.”
Craft did end up getting more education—he holds a master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Old Dominion University in Norfolk and one in Military Studies from Marine Corps University in Quantico, Virginia. His experience providing career development, training and discipline at the Office of Military Support/NCIS in Washington, D.C. will be used to motivate our present and future veteran students.
“I just loved being in the military,” he said. “I liked the people, the sailors … and I gave my word that I would defend the Constitution. We have our freedom because of veterans.”
Craft, like most soldiers, likes to “spin a yarn.” He said that he loves the 1887 photo to the left on board the USS Enterprise.
“Spinning a yarn is an old Navy term for telling sea stories,” he explained. “You could say when veterans come to see me I am ‘spinning a yarn’ in telling them sea stories during my Naval career.”
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