As we come to the close of November, the month of Veterans Day and Thanksgiving, it seems to be a fitting time to show appreciation and highlight Virginia Western’s military and veteran students and the resources available to them.
For service members, returning home can be both wonderful and challenging. Relearning the rhythm of day-to-day life, reuniting with family and friends, and the loss of the camaraderie of fellow soldiers can be overwhelming to service members. Learning how to translate skills obtained and resources earned in the military toward civilian life can be daunting as well.
Within the Commonwealth, Virginia Western has the largest population of military students west of Richmond, and is dedicated to supporting service members and their families. The college offers numerous resources including a Military Student Center, an active Armed Forces Student Association and SALUTE – the national honor society for current and former service members. We also provide access to additional veteran resources from Virginia’s Community Colleges such as Credits2Careers.
The Virginia Western Military Student Center helps current and former service members and their families access the services available to them at the college. Michele Hilts, VERITAS Veteran Liaison, explains that everything from application and advising support to quiet study space is available at the center, which is open day and evenings. “The Military Student Center is staffed with fellow student veterans who know the ins and outs of the school and the VA,” said Art Baker, a former engineering student who transferred to Northwestern University. “VWCC will help guide you through the VA process and the academic process, so that a veteran only has to focus on learning.”
In addition, the Armed Forces Student Association, a chapter of the Student Veterans of America, is a campus student organization that promotes socialization and continued service to the community for current and former members of the military and their supporters. Virginia Western is also the first college in Virginia to establish a chapter of SALUTE, the only national academic honor society for current and former military service members.
Along with the Virginia Community College System, Virginia Western is committed to evaluating students’ military experience and granting college credit. Through the Credits2Careers website, service members can explore careers, community college programs, and load their military transcript to receive Credit for Prior Learning and apply it towards academic requirements of a degree or certificate – thus, completing a degree or certificate needed for a future career – faster and at a lower cost.
Mark Shelton, a military student who is passionate about Mission 22 – veteran suicide prevention, shares that “just reaching out, talking to people (other service members), is really important.” Regardless of the branch of service, those who have served in the armed forces of the United States seem to share a sense of belonging and understanding with one another. Their comradery is impressive and their sense of duty transfers naturally to almost every task presented to them. Virginia Western appreciates the service of those in the armed forces and their families and is grateful for the opportunity to serve them here with a supportive environment and access to resources to further their lives and careers.