Transitioning from the culture of military life to civilian life can be tough for some veterans.
On Nov. 9, the Veterans Resource Center opened its doors to offer a place to build a community and help veteran students achieve their goals and ease the transition.
This new center is coordinated by Charles Johnson, a 26-year-old active duty Navy veteran.
Johnson said he is happy to be the coordinator of the center because he can relate.
“I can actually show them how it works, that it works, and be an example for them to follow,” Johnson said. “The things I’m telling them I have already experienced myself.”
Johnson said one of his goals is to make sure the student veterans understand how to use the Veterans Resource Center, the Counseling Center and financial aid resources.
“Those three things allow you to be a successful student, to get you in the door,” Johnson said. “There are a lot of other factors but those three things are vital.”
Vice President of Student Services Earic Dixon-Peters is excited to see the college expand existing services and wants to focus on student integration, their connectedness, their engagement with the campus and with the Veteran Resources Center.
“One of the essential pieces of all of this is to increase our student engagement in terms of their academic engagement and allow them to feel comfortable and confident,” Dixon-Peters said.
He said he is hoping this new addition will increase the retention rate and graduation rate of student veterans.
Dixon-Peters said there is a responsibility factor that lies on both ends. There is a responsibility for the administration and the staff to identify the needs and support for the veterans. There is also a responsibility of the veterans to take advantage of these services.
Anafe Robinson, the director of financial aid, veteran services and foster youth, wants to ensure that veterans at Pierce know about services, such as receiving veterans’ benefits, financial aid information and all of the new services that will be provided with the new resource center.
Her job with the veterans’ services is to provide support through a number of services, including financial aid counseling, monitoring the completion of assessment tests, orientation and counseling, and complete the certification for the veteran’s benefits.
Johnson said that he hopes students visit the Veterans Resource Center because he thinks that it can be life changing of taken advantage of.
“No one is giving them anything,” Johnson said. “They need to be committed to the process of getting an education the same as they were committed to doing their duty in the military.”
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Bryan Rodriguez served in the Marine Corp for four years and is now studying at Pierce as an economics major.
“If we use it correctly, it will make transitioning for veterans easier, and it will make a lot of these services more accessible. The trick is making everything known to the students,” Rodriguez said.