Making transition from veteran to classroom

State program puts veterans in touch with resources to navigate college life

The Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs has entered into a new endeavor with the state’s higher education providers to create a new program to serve veterans students — LaVetCorps.

Beginning in the fall, LaVetCorp will open 30 new resource centers on campuses statewide — including Mc-Neese State University and Sowela Technical Community College — to increase student access to state and federal veterans benefits.

The program will be staffed a LaVetCorp “Navigator” — a veteran or dependent of a veteran who is familiar with both the military lifestyle and challenges facing veterans as they transition to civilian life and the resources available at each individual college or university.

Chris Thomas, McNeese’s vice president of student affairs, said the navigator will serve as “peer mentor” who truly understands the bureaucracy of the VA and that of higher education.

“This will be a person who understands where they comes from; an advocate on behalf of the institution and the VA,” he said.

McNeese has 172 students enrolled who are utilizing GI Bill benefits with variety of backgrounds and a variety of needs while navigating university life, Thomas said.

“Vets come with war-time experience or not, deployment, different branches, with college experience or without,” he said. “ ‘Veteran’ is truly a diverse word when it comes to serving this umbrella term of students.”

It’s “highly likely” the university serves more veterans who may choose to not identify as so, Thomas added. He said he hopes the resource center and its staff will create a “halo effect” that will encourage more veterans to identify.

“We owe this to them,” he said. “They served us and we must serve them now.”

Sowela has 150 veteran students enrolled. The college has made veteran services available for a number of years, Allison Dering, interim executive director of enrollment management and student affairs, said.

She said the LaVetCorp program will take the veteran’s experience “to the next level.”

The college plans to renovate a new space in its Charleston building to serve as the LaVet-Corp “centralized location.” In a communal, easily accessible setting, veterans will work with the campus navigator and have refreshments and entertainment.

“They go from all working for one purpose to civilian life, but that sense of camaraderie is still there,” she said. “When veterans meet, it’s amazing, they can just strike a conversation from a common background.”

The navigator will not be a counselor, she said, but rather will help foster the sense of community that veterans are used to from their time serving.

“Vets have such a unique experience, if you’re not one, it’s hard to understand. Hopefully this will make that transition easier,” Dering said.


 

For more information on LaVetCorp, visit www.vetaffairs.la.gov.

””LaVetCorpsSpecial to the American Press

life

Jeff Davis residents urged to sign up for summer feeding program

life

Maplewood UMC celebrating 80 years as storm repairs continue

life

SW La. school lunch menus May 13-17

Business

Names in the News: People shaping the future of Lake Area business

McNeese Sports

Cowboys split, clinch playoff spot

Crime

Community meeting focuses on fentanyl problem

Local News

Louisiana Day: Students at Southwest Louisiana Charter Academy enjoy day of learning, fun

Local News

Heavy rainfall, potential severe weather coming Sunday

Jim Beam

Jim Beam column:Amended bill is unacceptable

McNeese Sports

Voss goes out a winner

Business

Port of LC now 10th on list of busiest ports

Local News

Mayor, deputy, attorney in spotlight at Law Day gathering

Local News

LCPD officers recognized for their heroism

Crime

5/10: Calcasieu Parish Sheriff announces arrest list

Local News

Rezoning request for mobile home park near Iowa rejected

McNeese Sports

Wade’s new gunslinger: Brewer signs with McNeese

life

CTC’s ‘The Hobbit’: ‘A classic that continues to connect generations’

life

Roots of Fire: LC native Jeremey Lavoi co-directed, produced award-winning Cajun music documentary

Local News

VIDEO: Louisiana Day celebration

Local News

Salvation Army emergency housing shelter now rebuilt and operational again

Local News

Holley Fontenot loves to help students develop as writers, critical thinkers

McNeese Sports

Cowgirl rally comes up run short

Local News

Jeff Davis has its first parish administrator

McNeese Sports

Cowgirls still kicking