Helping our student-veterans

I had the honor earlier this week to speak to PCC student-veterans, veterans’ advocates and PCC employees at a breakfast sponsored by Support Education and Employment for Veterans, (S.E.E.4Vets). The group, which collaborates with Arizona community colleges in implementing programs that improve student-veteran retention and persistence, demonstrated its support for our student-veterans with a $5,000 donation, and a goal of another $5,000, to the PCC Grants Resource Office.

I shared with the group that the College is moving forward in a variety of areas to improve services and programs for our more than 700 Veterans Benefits Recipients. We have increased staff, and have a new Acting Director of Veterans and Military Affiliated Services, Hector Acosta, a 23-year veteran of the U.S. Army.

Additionally, a few years ago we expanded and improved our Veterans Center at Downtown Campus, which gets about 100 students a week. The center is a gathering place where students can study, relax, and get answers about a variety of topics, including information on transitioning to a four-year college.

One of those aspiring transfer students is Cody Andrews, who served five years in the U.S. Navy attached to the U.S.S. John C. Stennis in Bremerton, Wash. Cody has done two tours overseas, in Asia and the Middle East. He was honorably discharged in 2012 and received a Letter of Commendation from the Fifth Fleet’s Rear Admiral.

Cody intends to study Marketing at the University of Arizona. At PCC, he is a member of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society, and has participated in the Veterans Administration Work Study Program, helping hundreds of fellow veterans pursue their academic goals.

One of the high points of the breakfast was a talk by Eli Crane, an entrepreneur who has appeared on the TV show “Shark Tank.” Eli also is a former Navy SEAL. He spoke of the challenges veterans face when seeking employment in the civilian world, and reminded everyone that the skills and values vets learn in the military are those that employers need.

The College deeply appreciates the support of S.E.E.4Vets. I thank Ray Torres, Chairman of the S.E.E.4Vets’ Board, and Vern “Rusty” Findley, USAF, retired Lt. Gen. and Vice Chairman, for the donation, which will be used for tutoring support in English, Writing and Mathematics for student-veterans.

I also want to thank Hector Acosta, Desert Vista Campus Vice President Ted Roush and their teams for their leadership and support of our veterans.

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