Central Texas College (CTC) and the Department of Veterans Administration (VA) recently signed a memorandum of understanding to provide further assistance to military veterans in obtaining their higher education goals. The agreement, which takes effect September 1, is part of the VA’s VetSuccess on Campus (VSOC) program designed to help veterans succeed in their educational programs and transition to suitable employment in the civilian workforce.
For its part, CTC will provide free use of office space for VA personnel to provide services and assistance outlined in the agreement. Vocational rehabilitation counselors from the VA will be included in any new student program held on campus. In addition, CTC will provide practical training on current services offered by the school including career counseling, vocational assessment, employment assistance, financial aid assistance, financial services, psychological counseling and services for students with disabilities, learning assistance and academic advising.
“The program is all about strengthening the partnerships between the VA and participating schools,” noted Dr. Thomas Klincar, CTC chancellor. “We could not be more pleased to enter into this agreement which only further enhances our programs to assist military veterans. Working with the VA to offer education and transition services is a natural extension to the services we currently provide and reinforces our commitment to these students.”
In addition, CTC will include vocational rehabilitation counselors on the school’s veterans’ support committee and provide an on-campus point-of-contact or VA outreach coordinator. The vocational rehabilitation counselor assigned to each VSOC school will provide vocational testing and career, academic and readjustment counseling services. The VA outreach coordinator, co-located on many campuses, provides peer-to-peer counseling and referral services.
The on-campus outreach to veterans includes assistance with transition support services, VA benefits application assistance, adjustment and career counseling services and on-campus service referral assistance. The VA will also offer referrals for VA medical and mental health services, job placement assistance and coordination with local Disabled Veterans Outreach Program specialists and local Veterans Employment representatives.
The VA will work closely with the CTC Veterans Services department to advance, improve and expand current assistance programs and employment opportunities for veterans. “The VetSuccess counselors ensure veterans receive the support and assistance needed to pursue their educational and employment goals,” explained Annabelle Smith, CTC director of financial aid and veteran services. “Because they are easily accessible on campuses, the counselors help resolve any problems that could potentially interfere with a veteran’s educational program including assistance with disability requirements. Both CTC and the VA are gladly working together for a coordinated delivery of benefits and services which will enable our student veterans to achieve their educational and employment goals.”
In June, CTC was notified of its approval to become part of the VA’s Yellow Ribbon program. The program, a provision of the Post 9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008, is designed to help students avoid paying out-of-pocket for tuition and fees associated with education programs by allowing approved institutions of higher learning and the VA to partially or fully fund tuition and fee expenses that exceed the established thresholds under the Post-9/11 GI Bill. CTC was also cited a few months earlier as the fourth-ranked school in the Military Times EDGE magazine’s list of the “Best for Vets: Colleges 2013” in the category of online and nontraditional schools. The selection was based on the primary criteria of academic accreditation, whether the school has a central veterans’ office and staff knowledge on veterans’ issues.