Military veterans face unique challenges when going back to school, but Salt Lake Community College has an on-campus resource that will help any veteran feel grounded.
The Veterans Center offers help to new SLCC student veterans through orientations, benefit assistance, and a place to relate to their peers.
“We have a first-person idea of how it works,” says third-year student Casey Deming.
Deming, who has been on work study in the Veterans Center for the past three months, says if it wasn’t for a fellow veteran student showing him the ropes, he would have struggled.
“There’s been vets even in this office that have taken me under their wing,” says Deming.
More than three-fourths of work study students at the Veterans Center are veterans themselves and are using their benefits.
“It’s sort of like sergeants helping privates,” says VetSuccess coordinator and veteran Dr. Mike Foster. “I think having those work studies that have typically been in school longer are good role models for students coming on board.”
Dr. Foster explains some of the frequent rookie mistakes that students can avoid.
“First, make sure you are set up with your GI Bill [VONAPP]. Then make sure you know where you are going. Know your major.”
Because the Post 9/11 GI Bill lasts only 36 months, students have to hit the ground running and find their major quickly.
Students can get a head start by filling out a VONAPP, an online form that notifies the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs that a veteran would like to use their education benefits. Veteran students attending SLCC and that use any VA educational benefit may also apply for work study.
“[Peer mentoring] is huge for both parties, for the veterans that are helping and for the veterans that need help,” says Dr. Foster.
The Veterans Center also has a VITAL coordinator and a Disability Resource Center advocate to help any veteran who needs accommodations.
“We’ve all heard horror stories from the VA,” says veteran and second-year student Mike Snell. “I have been a work study here for a little over a year; I’ve heard so many.”
After filling out the VONAPP, getting classes certified with the Veterans Center is easier than expected. Students have to complete a simple certification form each semester in order to receive their benefits.
For help with VA educational benefits or to fill out a work study application, visit the Veterans Center in room 059 of the Student Center at Taylorsville Redwood Campus.