By USO Staff
Earning a college degree is a major accomplishment, joyfully celebrated among classmates with a graduation ceremony that acknowledges the commitment and hard work it takes. It’s a day that stands out in a graduate’s mind. Unfortunately for service members and veterans who earn their higher education degrees through online programs — often in remote locations — they don’t have that opportunity. For that reason, the USO and Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) have come together for the USO diploma delivery program. Service members receive their diplomas in person, anywhere in the world, to fully celebrate their achievements on a day to remember.
Army veteran Nate Lohn experienced the USO’s diploma delivery program in August as he received a Bachelor of Arts in History from SNHU. The College of Southern Maryland hosted the celebration, bringing Nate back to the campus where he earned his associate degree several years earlier.
Nate was born in Bremerhaven, Germany, to a father who went on to become a first sergeant and a mother who was a nurse. Fittingly, Nate later followed in both of his parents’ footsteps in his career as an Army combat medic.
Nate began his military service in February 2005, serving with the 62nd Engineer Battalion in Baghdad, Iraq, from 2005 to 2006. Once he returned home to the U.S., Nate was stationed at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, where he remained for the rest of his Army career.
When Nate left the Army in 2010, he began working for former Senator Bob Dole as his private nursing aide. He remained on Dole’s team until the senator’s death in December 2021 and Nate even served as a pallbearer at Senator Dole’s funeral.
Senator Dole, a World War II veteran, left Nate with a powerful message in the months before he passed.
“He told me, ‘Nate, you’re going to be a rich man. You’re very smart. You’re going to go far. I don’t worry about you.’ And that spurred a little bit more confidence in me. I had been done with my associate’s degree for almost eight years, and I wasn’t really sure what I would do next. I decided to go ahead and finish my bachelor’s to get me there.”
As Nate worked toward earning his Bachelor of Arts in History with a concentration in American History from SNHU, he also worked full time as a substitute teacher and performed two to three times each week as a guitarist and singer around the southern Maryland region, under the stage name Doc Lohn. He plays a wide variety of musical genres, including country, rock, reggae and grunge. He even performed a few songs at his own graduation ceremony.
“I couldn’t have earned my degree at a traditional brick-and-mortar university. SHNU gave me the flexibility to make time for schoolwork,” Nate said.
He also appreciated the understanding the university showed when Senator Dole was diagnosed with terminal cancer and would require more care, taking up more of Nate’s time.
“I called my counselor and explained things were about to get very intensive and I needed to take a break, and that was no problem. He said, ‘Just gimme a call when you’re ready and we’ll get you right back into the program.’ It was seamless when I returned.”
Nate’s experiences with the USO have truly come full circle.
Nate can recall the exact moment he first encountered the USO: “I was deploying through Bangor, Maine, to Iraq. USO volunteers were there, thanking us for our service. I remember very vividly there being a much older volunteer who had been there for quite a while. It was like a rite of passage to meet her.”
With the partnership of SNHU and the USO, as well as the presence of his family as he received his diploma, Nate has found another memorable USO moment.
Learn About the USO’s Partnership with SNHU
SNHU, which has its own rich history of serving America’s military, has partnered with the USO as the organization’s Worldwide Education Partner since 2016.
In this role, SNHU delivers educational resources and opportunities that help men and women in uniform, as well as their spouses, throughout their military journey and as they transition back into civilian life. Since first partnering with the USO in 2016, SNHU has provided valuable support to the USO and has worked with the USO to award several military-affiliated learners with full-tuition scholarships.
From collaborating on events and programming at USO locations around the world, to offering academic guidance, financial literacy support and more, SNHU is a true Force Behind the Forces®.
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