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NVC Honors its Veterans

Across the U.S. on Veterans Day, there were numerous events and celebrations to honor the men and women of the Armed Forces. While NVC had its own activities planned for Nov. 11, it has also worked over the years to provide more resources and services to its veteran students, which make up about 10 percent of the student population.

For starters, NVC has a dedicated area - the NVC Veterans Affairs office - that knows how to handle issues pertaining to veteran students. Led by Betty Cunningham, her small team of five employees has helped snag NVC the "Military Friendly" designation by Victoria Media for several years in a row.

Robert Villarreal Jr. of the NVC Veterans Affairs team said unlike the traditional student, veteran students have different circumstances they need help with.

“When they come to us, many of them don’t know where to start in accessing their Veterans Affairs educational benefits. So it’s not just walking them through the admissions process, but also helping them to access their VA benefits,” said Robert, adding that the NVC Access office has also played an instrumental part in helping many of the vet students be successful on campus.

Robert added the number of veteran students at NVC seems to increase almost every year. He said two reasons for the increase is the military downsizing and better educational benefits that have been offered to veterans and their families post September 11, 2001.

A few new programs have arisen on campus to give the increasing number of veteran students mentoring help.

Vet 2 Vet is a new program out of NVC Student Activities that provides a venue for vet students to talk with faculty or employees who have served in the military. This program also encompasses a blog to provide a tool for students to discuss issues pertaining to them.

Open Ranks is a new student group started with the help of NVC student Joshua Riley, who served in the U.S. Army for 13 years. The group works with faculty and staff to raise awareness of veteran affairs issues and provide a network and mentorship to service members/veterans on campus.

Externally, NVC formed a partnership with the Wounded Warrior Project’s TRACK program. For a little over three years and almost 100 veteran students later, TRACK students take classes only at NVC as part of the 12-month program to help them toward an associate or bachelor’s degree or a certificate program. TRACK also provides these students with an externship with local employers to provide training in a civilian workforce environment.

Mike Owens, dean of students for the local TRACK program, said the NVC partnership has been working great for his students and he hopes to strengthen his program’s relationship with NVC in the future.

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