November brings cooler weather, Thanksgiving, and the beginning of holiday plans. In all the busyness and anticipation of what’s to come, Veterans Day can pass by as just another holiday. Understanding the unique experiences of service members provides a deeper appreciation for the day and those it is meant to honor.
During my time in the NC Community College system, I’ve had the pleasure of knowing and working with members of the armed forces and their dependents, as colleagues, students and friends. Early in my career I had a close friend and co-worker who was former military herself and her husband was an Army staff sergeant at that time. Seeing her manage a full-time job and care for four school-age kids, while her husband was on an 18-month overseas tour, gave me a whole new perspective on what sacrifice means for military families. Another former colleague of several years shared the challenges her husband faced in dealing with PTSD from combat deployment, and how it resulted in years of readjustment and healing for him and their family. I also remember a student who received an honorable discharge after almost 20 years of service in the Army, and came to community college to build on the welding skills he acquired in the military. He initially struggled without the consistent structure and routine he had known since young adulthood, but he worked through those challenges, earned an associate degree in Welding, and was nominated for the statewide NC Community College Dallas Herring Award.
Community colleges provide a new start for thousands of students every year, and WCC programs offer a wealth of opportunities for veterans who want to build on current skills or learn a new trade. Public safety programs such as Basic Law Enforcement Training and the Fire and Rescue Academy are always looking for new cadets. This might be the perfect time to earn a transfer degree and go on to a four-year institution. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Education Benefits provide financial support for qualified veterans and/or their dependents to receive postsecondary education and technical training. Benefits may include tuition and fees, housing allowances, and stipends for books and supplies for those who are eligible. Service members and veterans can learn more about their benefits on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website. Additional information about the process of using VA benefits at WCC is available on the College website or you can contact the Director of Financial Aid and Veterans Affairs, Lisa Baker at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Join us for a brief ceremony in observance of Veterans Day, on Friday, November 10, at 10:00 a.m. in the courtyard on WCC’s campus. To learn more about a career in public service, contact the Director of Law Enforcement Training, Darlene Hall at email@example.com, or the Director of Health and Emergency Services, Ben Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org.