by Khalics Bryant
Many of the men and women serving in the United States Armed Forces find it difficult to adjust to civilian life after being in the military for a number of years. Knowing this, the government has set up programs through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs that assist veterans during and after this transitional period. Many of these programs focus on helping veterans receive degrees from institutions of higher learning such as Whatcom Community College.
“There are more than 300 veterans registered at the Whatcom for the spring,” said Jarid Corbit, veterans’ advisor at Whatcom. “A big part of my job is to help the school understand military culture, and to help veterans adjust to life outside the military.”
As a former Marine, Corbit knows first hand the challenges veterans face as they transition to civilian life.
“Often there will be a case where the veteran hasn’t been in school for well over 10 years,” Corbit said. Veterans, when discharged from service, are faced with a lot of different choices, he explained. “Education is a positive choice and a choice that will help them for the rest of their lives.”
There are a number of different programs veterans can qualify for. The GI Bill and Vocational Rehabilitation program are the two most common for veterans here at Whatcom. Corbit advises any Whatcom veteran to come to the veteran’s office in the Laidlaw Center and speak with a counselor if they have not done so already.
The GI Bill is a program set up to help former service men and women pay for tuition, books, and anything else needed to receive a degree or finishing a training program. The majority of veterans at Whatcom receive benefits from the GI Bill, Corbit said.
“I was high strung,” said Sean Michael Dalgarn, a Whatcom student, former Airman in the Air Force who receives GI Bill benefits. “I was ready to get up and walk right out the office until I spoke with Jarid. Everyone at Whatcom looks to help veterans. I love it here!”
Another assistance program for veterans at Whatcom is the Vocational Rehabilitation program. This program is designed to help veterans with service-connected disabilities find a suitable job or gain the level of education needed to find employment. This program is specifically set up to help former service men and women who were deemed unable to find suitable employment due to a disability acquired during their service to this country.
Disabled veterans understandably have an even harder time adjusting to life after the military. The VA provides medical care, mental health care, and any other health services required to help veterans with these disabilities.
“I knew this job would give me the opportunity to help veterans on a daily basis and help them achieve their dreams,” said Corbit. “I get to see their growth and development and it makes me feel so good that I had a small part in it.”
Dalgarn agreed with the value of Whatcom’s assistance to veterans. “Whatcom will bring the best out of you,” he said. “It’s set up so that veterans can do well here.”
Veterans are encouraged to sign up with the Veterans Affairs department just prior to, or immediately after being discharged. Many benefits cannot be applied for unless the veteran has registered with the VA. For more information on registering with the VA please go to www.va.gov.
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