Central Oregon Community College is receiving a $600,000 grant to expand its services for veterans who are students.
Veterans represent nine percent of the student body at the local college, and those numbers likely will increase as the grant money brings in more people to support veteran higher education.
About 500 veterans of military service are enrolled in classes at Central Oregon Community College.
Many of them seek support through the on-campus Bob Maxwell Veterans Center.
“I don’t know where my class is. I don’t know what resources are available to me. I’m having trouble finding stable housing around here,” said Levon Alldredge, a veteran peer advisor who works in COCC’s Veterans Services office. “Okay, we’ve got this resource. I can take you over here. I can introduce you to this person. That’s my job to help people figure out what resources are available to them and get it to them when necessary.”
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The recently awarded U.S. Department of Education grant will allow COCC to expand veteran support services, smoothing veterans transition from military service to higher education.
“It provides customized academic advising, tutoring, different kinds of career planning and support as well as a peer to peer student mentoring program where current veterans will help new veterans coming to COCC and help them figure out how higher education works,” said Alicia Moore, the college’s vice president of student affairs.
Alldredge, a retired Marine, works as a veteran peer advisor while he studies for a degree in psychology.
“Having a built in program like this in the school where you have peers readily available really helps. They know where the newcomer has been. Here’s some cool stuff. Here’s where you can go. We’ll go together. It really helps ease that transition,” he said.
With the grant money, COCC will invest about $200,000 a year for the next three years expanding the veterans center into a Center of Excellence for Veteran Student Success.