Bringing Veterans Together: A New Model for Support at Community Colleges

Bringing Veterans Together: A New Model for Support at Community Colleges
After serving our country in the Armed Forces, many veterans find themselves unsupported by community colleges. Thankfully, several campuses are hoping to change the landscape of support for veterans.

Many students join the military after high school in part to pay for post-secondary education after their service is complete. However, veterans moving from active service to a college environment often have more than a little difficulty making the transition. To help the process, numerous community colleges are providing the support veterans need to have a successful college experience.

Creating a National Model in Arizona

According to a recent report in the East Valley Tribune, five Maricopa community colleges will be offering more services to the veterans that enroll after active duty. The East Valley Veterans Center is slated to open in January 2011 and will serve the campuses of Chandler-Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, Gateway, and Rio Salado. The center will offer a convenient, centralized location for veterans entering one of these colleges to find out about benefits, admissions, and services available to them.

Yvonne Lawrence, the coordinator of the recruitment program for military education at Rio Salado College, told the Tribune that the basic idea behind the center is to simplify the college process for veterans.

"We’re basically trying to cut some of the red tape in getting veterans enrolled, getting them access to their educational benefits from the VA and reintegration from active-duty service to civilian life," Lawrence said.

The Arizona center will be staffed by four full-time members, plus part-time staff as needed. The center will also provide work-study positions so that student veterans have the opportunity to work in office positions while attending school.

This video reports on how colleges are supporting student veterans.

Veterans Find Support at San Francisco State

Currently, about 400 San Francisco State student veterans and another 400 of their dependents are attending the college through GI benefits. To address the growing number of veterans at this college, the school has opened its Veterans Services Center last month. The center will provide a space for students to collect information, seek counsel or meet other students in a similar situation to their own.

The center's Veteran's Association Certifying Official Rogelio Manaois told the Golden Gate Xpress, "A lot of new enlistees are going into the military for the educational benefits. Now, veterans are going to schools they never could have afforded before because of the GI Bill. We're making sure that this population that has a unique background is getting all of the services available to them."

Some students have said the center is a welcome addition to San Francisco State since some community colleges in the area did not offer much in the way of support services to veterans. However, California community colleges hope to change that perception, with new programs to support veterans, particularly women vets.

California Community Colleges Helping Women Vets

According to a report in Our Weekly, California community colleges are making their student veterans a new priority. These colleges are banding together to provide a host of support services to veterans entering college, from basic information to individual counseling. To introduce the new services available, a conference was recently held in Pasadena, titled, "Veterans: The Community College's Best Kept Secret."

Recent statistics from the National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics show that as many as 2 million veterans live in California. Of that number, 8 percent are women. California community colleges also hope to address this specific demographic with support services geared specifically to women vets.

This video offers an overview of the veterans support programs in Arizona's community colleges.

Kentucky Partners with Cincinnati College to Support Vets

Gateway Community and Technical College in Kentucky has also opened a Veteran Support Center at one of its campuses, and it is partnering with another neighboring school to provide even more services. The Cincinnati State Technical and Community College will offer services under its Veterans Upward Bound program, which received funding from a federal grant, according to a report on the Cincinnati State website. This program offers veterans a wide range of services, including refresher courses, career advisement, and financial aid assistance.

Patricia A. Goodman, dean of institutional research, planning, and effectiveness at Gateway, led the project to create the center. She said, "Having a Veteran Support Center has been Gateway's goal for some time. The Veterans Upward Bound program available through the partnership with Cincinnati State was key to getting the center off the ground."

Moving from active duty to college has not been an easy tradition for vets in the past. Thanks to innovative programs like these, more veterans are getting the support they need to succeed in community college and beyond.

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