Despite the challenges posed by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the College of the Canyons Veterans Resource Center continues to meet the needs of student veterans.
As of September 2020, more than 350 COC student veterans have benefited from the Post 9/11 VA Education Benefits Program, which also provided more than $1 million in housing aid during the spring 2020 semester.
“The program has always been an incredible opportunity, but with coronavirus, and economic challenges upon us, this program is more meaningful than ever before,” said VRC Director Renard Thomas. “The program is helping these veterans move forward during some of the most difficult challenges our nation has ever faced, but it is also stimulating the local economy.”
The Post-9/11 GI Bill provides education benefits for students who served on active duty for 90 or more days after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. COC student veterans enrolled in the program receive a monthly housing allowance, paid tuition and fees, and an annual $1,000 book stipend.
For Marissa Muñoz, a former U.S. Marine, accessing her GI benefits this semester provided her and her husband with a sense of relief.
“I feel very fortunate to be able to attend school full time and receive a housing stipend,” said Muñoz, who also works as a VRC college assistant. “I feel really supported at College of the Canyons. The VRC always had the answers to my questions, and if they don’t, they always point me in the right direction.”
To provide timely and reliable assistance to student veterans, the VRC transitioned its services into a remote format and offers counseling services over the phone, virtually and via email.
“We are effectively reaching more students using multiple mediums depending on their needs and available resources,” said Thomas. “Although it is not easy to keep all these different types of access points open and available for students, it is worth it because the need is real and present.”
For more information about the Veterans Resource Center, visit the department’s web page.