Yale’s freshman class this year includes a former U.S. Navy SEAL, 52-year-old James Hatch.

Hatch was admitted to Yale University as an Eli Whitney scholar, a program for nontraditional students who have had their educational careers interrupted.

Hatch joined the military out of high school, became a SEAL and spent almost 26 years in the Navy, fighting in Afghanistan and other hot spots.

His military career ended after he was seriously injured in 2009 during a mission to find Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who had walked off his post.

Eighteen surgeries and some notoriety followed after his story became public during Bergdahl’s trial. He suffered from serious post-traumatic stress, fell into drugs and drinking, even attempted suicide.

But Hatch got help from his family and professionals, he said, and is now better able to cope.

Hatch said he believes having a Yale degree will open more doors for him in seeking funding for his charity work.

Includes reporting from The Associated Press

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