As Veterans Day approaches, MCTC looks back at its history of veteran support. From TRIO to student clubs to Beyond the Yellow Ribbon initiatives, the College has learned from past successes and continues to implement new, innovative programs to welcome and support veterans on campus, including several activities planned for Nov. 6.
Veterans Upward Bound
Veterans have been attending MCTC since the College was a vocational school and veterans returning from the war were looking for work.
Veterans Upward Bound (VUB), which celebrated its 40th anniversary at the College last year, is one of MCTC’s most comprehensive veteran services. The federally funded TRIO program provides short-term remedial courses for veterans to help them transition into postsecondary education. The courses, textbooks, financial aid counseling, one-on-one tutoring and all other services are free.
Former TRIO Director and Vietnam veteran Jon Westby was honored to participate in VUB’s 40th anniversary celebration last year. Westby’s history with TRIO at MCTC goes back a long time: He was the first director of VUB in 1974, and he led a national fight to keep the program alive in the late 70s, when former President Regan nearly eliminated TRIO and other veteran support programs.
“Being with other veterans helped me get back into society after the war,” he said. “It cleansed demons that we all have.”
VUB’s current Program Director Craig Asche became inspired to work with veterans after the events of Sept. 11, 2001. He was a gradeschool teacher at the time and would see what the veteran parents of his students were like before and after their time in Iraq.
“Everyone I meet is someone in process,” he said. “I like to be part of that process of helping others find services and making connections.”
Veterans have a place to meet on campus for camaraderie and support and to talk with other students in the Veterans Welcome Center. “This is a place where veteran students can relax, socialize and do homework,” said Asche. “It’s staffed by student veterans. There are computers and information available. It’s also a meeting room for the MCTC chapter of the Student Veterans of America.”
Beyond the Yellow Ribbon
In addition to the College’s existing services and resources for veterans, MCTC is taking steps to become a state-recognized Beyond the Yellow Ribboncampus. Beyond the Yellow Ribbon (BTYR) is a statewide program that works to connect past and future veterans with community support and resources. With encouragement from Gov. Mark Dayton, a committee of MCTC employees and students are working to bring BYTR to the College.
MCTC Political Science Instructor and U.S. Army veteran Miki Huntington sits on the committee and believes support is crucial for veterans.
“We want MCTC to be a one-stop shop for veterans and their families,” she said.
The committee has a number of plans in place to bring awareness to the community. This winter, MCTC will host the exhibit Always Lost: A Meditation on War—a traveling exhibit featuring photos, interviews and poems of deceased veterans. The exhibit will be on display in the Helland Center Dec. 15, 2014—Jan. 26, 2015.
“I hope in all these efforts that we can give back to all of those who have served for us,” said MCTC Student Life Director Tara Martinez.
MCTC Liberal Arts student Tim Ireland is the president of the College’s Student Veteran Association (SVA) chapter and is very active in organizing veteran-centered events and initiatives like BTYR at MCTC.
“I put everything into what I do and my post-service work is just as important as when I was in uniform,” he said.
Military Friendly School
MCTC was named a military friendly school for the fourth time this year. The honor, given by Victory Media, recognizes an institution’s military culture, flexibility, support services and financial assistance for veterans.
Veterans Day Recognition Events Nov. 3-7
This fall, MCTC planted a tree in its outdoor plaza in honor of Veterans Day (pictured, right) and the many veteran-supportive initiatives underway at the College. In addition, the community is invited to the MCTC Veterans Day recognition event “Honoring All Who Served” on Thursday, Nov. 6 from noon–1:30 p.m. The following events will take place:
- Noon—Flag raising and veterans tree dedication ceremony featuring the MCTC Choir and Public Safety Color Guard (outdoor plaza flagpole)
- 12:15–1:30 p.m.—Veterans Day Recognition Program (H.1002)
The MCTC community is also invited to visit the “Remember a Vet” display in the Hennepin Ave. Skyway from Nov. 3–7.
Into the Future
Asche, an MCTC Veteran Certifying Official and other individuals are available to assist veterans in the enrollment process and to provide guidance in the veterans benefit application process. As MCTC heads into the future and welcomes veterans at every point, the College strives to remain flexible and relevant for its entire community.