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Published: Thursday, 9/22/2011

Owens Community College: Veterans’ Affairs Come First, Last, Always

Veterans give their all to our country. At Owens Community College, the staff and administration feel it’s their duty to return the favor. 

Owens advisors give Veterans the assistance they need in getting started with college. Whether they are transitioning out of the military or still serving, Owens is dedicated to helping them meet their educational and career goals.

As a first step, the Veterans Affairs Office helps navigate the process of accessing GI Benefits, which in many cases may fully cover the cost of an Owens degree. Veterans are entitled to educational support through the Montgomery GI Bill that includes Chapter 30, 31, 35, 1606, and 1607, as well as the newest GI Bill, Post 9/11 also known as CH33. Services provided by Owens Department of Veterans Affairs include applying for the Montgomery GI Bill Education Benefits, assisting with the admissions process, certifying semester hours for payment, as well as being a liaison to other departments on campus.

“When going through the process of getting out of the military, many veterans need help understanding and using their benefits. Owens can help with that,” said Yolanda Houle, Owens Veterans Affairs Representative. An Air Force veteran herself, “I know the experiences I went through in getting my benefits to attend Owens and can help students going through the same process.”

Getting back into the civilian life isn’t always easy for some veterans. But most don’t realize that they have identifiable and transferable skills that have already been proven in the real world, making them good candidates for professional jobs.

Owens alumnus Wesley Waggoner found support and success at Owens in the Ohio Basic Police Officer Academy. After graduating, he enrolled in the Emergency Medical Technician and Criminal Justice Program at Owens.

“I wanted to help as many people as I can. I couldn’t pick just one degree,” said Waggoner.

He was able to attend Owens with money from his GI benefits and receive class credit from his military classes and time spent in the Army Reserves.

Before coming to Owens, Waggoner joined the United States Army as soon as he graduated from high school and began basic training. Both his father and grandfather were in the Army so it was no surprise when he enlisted after September 11. He trained further to become a 13 BRAVO Cannon Crew member. His team was trained to fire high-explosive rounds up to 27 miles accurately.

On January 4, 2004, he was deployed to Iraq. There he patrolled the area, ran security convoys and helped train Iraqi police forces. He also built schools and water plants and helped to get two universities up and running.

Owens has a Veteran Club which is open to all vets, alumni and their spouses and provides a core group of support and guidance for all members. The club was established to provide information about the many resources available to veterans and their families as they work toward their academic and professional goals.

“The Veteran’s Affairs office at Owens was very helpful and allowed me to maximize my benefits,” said Waggoner.

In 2010, 518 veterans made the most of their GI benefits at Owens. Also in 2010, 53 veterans graduated from Owens.

Owens also partnered with The Blade and Heroes in Action to host the first annual Heroes Run and Walk in support of our troops as part of the weekend-long Red, White, KABOOM event.

Each veterans program has individual requirements of eligibility. Those who wish to use the educational benefits are required to meet with an Owens’ Veterans Representative before using benefits. For more information, please contact (567) 661-VETS or at  HYPERLINK "mailto:vet@owens.edu" vets@owens.edu.

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