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National program serving veterans lands at PCC

Dept. of Veterans Affairs selects Rock Creek campus to host counselors


by: SUBMITTED PHOTO: PCC - Steve Gordon, left, meets Bert Logan, Portland Community College's director of Financial Aid and Veteran Services.Portland Community College is one of 94 colleges and universities nationwide chosen to take part in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ VetSuccess on Campus Program.

First started at the University of South Florida in 2009, the program serves as the on-campus face of the Veterans Affairs. Counselors in the program help ease veterans’ transition to student life and assist them in achieving their educational and career goals through the VA’s Post-9/11 GI Bill, and other education benefit programs. The counselors maintain close relationships with local VA veteran centers and VA medical facilities, referring veterans as needed for counseling or medical services and providing assistance enrolling in and applying for VA medical and nonmedical benefits.

Partner schools like PCC provide on-campus office space for the VA counselors. In addition to PCC, the VA has signed agreements with such schools as Austin Community College in Texas, East Carolina University, Florida State University, Houston Community College in Texas, The Ohio State University, Old Dominion University in Virginia, Pasadena City College in California, Texas A&M University, University of Alabama, University of Kentucky and University of Nebraska, to name a few.

“When we received notice from them that they wanted to locate a VSOC counselor on our campus, we jumped on it,” said Bert Logan, the college’s director of Financial Aid and Veteran Services. “We are very excited about having this resource on campus. This gives us the extraordinary opportunity to provide our student veterans and their families with an all-encompassing and holistic experience at PCC.”

Logan said PCC, which has more than 1,400 military veterans on its campuses, was chosen for this program because of the services it has created for student veterans, the size of its student veteran population and its proximity to a number of veteran resources located throughout the Portland area. During the past few years, the college has improved systems to streamline certification of educational benefits and was an early adopter of President Obama’s Executive Order 13607 “Establishing Principles of Excellence for Educational Institutions Serving Service Members, Veterans, Spouses and Other Family Members.” Many of the principles in the order were already in place at PCC through its own initiatives, Logan said.

One of the college’s cornerstones in serving military veterans is the Rock Creek Campus Veterans Resource Center — the first, and only, one-stop resource center at the college that provides a space dedicated for student veterans to network and relax. There are plans to create full-service Veterans Resource Centers like the one at Rock Creek across PCC thanks to the current work by the college’s bond program.

In addition, the college has active veterans’ clubs that meet at locations around the district where students come together to support one another, share information and promote strategies for improving the veteran experience at PCC.

“For many veterans, the transition from military life to the academic world can seem more challenging than a boot camp obstacle course,” said Julie Barber, faculty advisor for the Sylvania Veterans’ Club. “Connecting with other veterans, and especially with those who have successfully navigated that rocky route, can help immensely.”

For more information on the VetSuccess program, go to vetsuccess.gov.




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