For veterans returning to the U.S. after military service, the transition can be hard. These young men and women must adjust to the “real world” environment, often without the support of other veterans who understand firsthand what they are experiencing. Fortunately, many community colleges across the country are recognizing the needs of the veteran population and answering the call by providing job training, as well as emotional and physical support for those who have selflessly served their country. Check out the many veterans’ services offered by community colleges nationwide today.
Cayuga Community College Offers Veterans Club
At Cayuga Community College in New York, veterans can find the camaraderie, resources, and support they need to succeed in the world of higher education. Syracuse.com reports that the Veterans Club on this campus was started by former marine Brian Knapp, who wanted to share information about available benefits and services with other vets. Knapp told Syracuse.com that while he has enjoyed his experience at community college since coming back from Afghanistan, he found the benefits maze somewhat confusing to navigate.
“I wanted to know about my benefits and that’s why I started the club,” Knapp explained. “I thought other people wanted to know too.”
In addition to educating veterans about the benefits available to them, Knapp said the Veterans Club also provides bonds for vets that have had similar experiences and want to share those experiences with others who understand.
“In the military, you have comrades,” Knapp said. “You lose that at home. We’re trying to get that back for people.
The club also serves to educate the general public about the needs veterans have when they return home. Club members also serve in the local community, raising money for various causes and collecting needed supplies for cancer victims and others. Currently, the number of club members is relatively small compared to the number of vets on Cayuga campuses, but Knapp said they are working to increase those numbers by making vets aware of the services provided.
Mott Community College Hosts Veterans Fair
Last November, Mott Community College in Michigan teamed up with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs to host the first annual veterans’ benefits fair for the community. Veterans that attended the affair found veterans service officers on hand to educate them about benefits and services for vets and even help them apply for benefits on the spot.
According to MLive, around 250 students are currently attending Mott Community College on the GI Bill, but officials believe there are probably many more vets on campus not using veterans’ benefits. The goal of the fair was to alert veterans to potential services they may not be using and help them apply for the benefits for which they qualify. Veteran mentors are also on staff to help vets build relationships and succeed after their deployments.
Salt Lake Community College Top School for Vets
Another community college that is working hard to meet the need of its veterans is Salt Lake Community College in Utah. Voted one of the top 12 schools for veterans in 2012 by Military Times EDGE magazine, Salt Lake Community College offers a wide range of services and resources for students who have served in the armed forces. The college has also been labeled “military friendly” by GI Jobs for four consecutive years.
To receive the recognition by Military Times, schools must have academic accreditation and feature a veteran’s center with staff knowledgeable about veterans’ services and benefits. Schools must also be participants in the Yellow Ribbon veterans’ scholarship program and show positive completion rates for veterans. To qualify for the recognition by GI Jobs, schools must demonstrate successful transitioning by vets between school and career options after graduation.
“To receive this award again this year is a wonderful recognition of the quality service Salt Lake Community College is able to provide for veterans,” Darlene Head, director of the veteran’s center at the school, told Digital Journal of the recognition by GI Jobs.
In 2008, the school opened a completely renovated Veterans Center, according to Digital Journal. That center is only one of eight across the country that was invited to participate in the Vet Success program. The center provides support for all of the education needs of the approximately 1,200 veterans on the Salt Lake Community College campus, in a single, convenient location.
This video describes the veterans' programs at Salt Lake Community College.
Northampton Community College Gets Grant to Help Vets
Thanks to a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, Northampton Community College in Pennsylvania is now able to offer veterans’ skills training that will help them find employment after their military service. JobTrak PA is a program that provides specific training for in-demand fields in Pennsylvania to help veterans and those who have been displaced in their current professions. In addition to working with faculty members who have field experience in the selected professions, every veteran in the program will have the opportunity to work with a career coach.
Current specializations within the JobTrak PA program include electrical construction, geothermal heat pumps, refrigeration, and machine repair, according to Lehigh Valley Live. Students can usually complete the training programs in one year or less, getting them back into the workforce faster. In addition, financial aid is available to qualifying students to cover the cost of the program, which totals around $5,000.
Around the country, veterans can find help transitioning to civilian life through local community colleges. With services, benefits, and resources available, these institutions are a shining example of how to support those who have sacrificially served their country.
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