How College of DuPage embraces our veterans

 
By Ann Rondeau
College of DuPage president
Posted11/7/2018 10:28 AM
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I often say that Memorial Day is noting the sacrifice of service, while Veterans Day is honoring the service of sacrifice.

It is important as a community and a nation that we proudly recognize our veterans who have selected service over self to protect our values and freedoms.

We embrace veterans at College of DuPage, which has served more than 25,000 current and former military personnel during the past 50 years. Their experiences add to the rich texture of learning that takes place on campus.

They also have questions about benefits and other military-related issues that require specific knowledge and guidance. This is where the college's Veterans Services office can help. It is a place to find key resources that provide for a smooth transition from active duty to civilian life.

Last year, a report produced by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission noted that the College of DuPage Veterans Services program serves more veterans than any community college in Northern Illinois and was eighth among all colleges and universities in the state.

The college recognizes many tuition-based veteran education bills and programs, including the Montgomery G.I. Bill for Active Duty, survivors and dependents educational assistance programs, Reserve Educational Assistance Program, Illinois Veterans Grant and the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill.

The Veterans Services office staff can walk military personnel and their families through these bills and programs so they can embark on a successful educational experience.

College of DuPage offers a wide variety of options for veterans, including an informal setting like the Veterans Lounge, where students can meet, converse, study and just hang out.

The Veterans Services office provides help with internships and educational opportunities. One internship the college proudly offers is VetTech, a partnership with Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.

This innovative program began when Fermilab approached the college about hiring student veterans in such fields as engineering, computers, automotive service, manufacturing and HVACR for 10-week, full-time paid internships. Since 2016, the college has successfully placed students in these positions with positive results.

The Field and Experiential Learning program offers a unique opportunity for veterans to fulfill a general education requirement.

During the Veterans Wilderness Encounter, participants travel to the Rockies to backpack and hike, using the experience to develop communication skills, build trust, and transition teamwork and leadership skills learned in the military through an adventure-based civilian setting. This course fulfills the speech or contemporary life skills requirement for an associate in applied science degree.

College of DuPage is proud that two of our veteran students are part of the nonprofit Posse Foundation's Veterans Program, which identifies veterans interested in pursuing bachelor's degrees at top colleges and universities. Lance Williams and Jacob Meyer received full-ride scholarships to Wesleyan University in Connecticut and currently are part of cohorts that consist solely of veterans.

As we approach Veterans Day, College of DuPage celebrates the achievements and sacrifices of veterans and military personnel during an annual celebration on campus.

Free and open to the public, this year's Veterans Day event will be held on Monday, Nov. 12, and will feature a half-day of activities that include a Colors Ceremony led by the DuPage Honor Guard, an armed forces exhibition, and the 12th annual Veterans Day Read-In. You can find out about these events and everything our Veterans Services program offers at cod.edu/admission/veterans.

College of DuPage is proud to serve our veterans after they have served us so well. As they move into the next phase of their lives, the college is providing them with the skills they need to succeed in school, their careers and the community.

They deserve everyone's thanks and gratitude for their service of sacrifice.

• College of DuPage President Ann Rondeau's column appears monthly in Neighbor. She is a retired Navy vice admiral.

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