More than a third of student veterans are enrolled at community colleges, according to 2015 data from the American Council on Education. It makes sense then that many two-year institutions would take a moment to honor those veterans, and others in the community, on Veterans Day.
At Iowa Lakes Community College, student leaders are organizing special events and displays. All campuses will display Honor Trees. Multi-colored ribbons are placed near the Honor Trees, and students, staff and faculty will be encouraged to tie various colored ribbons to the trees to recognize those who have served, as well as those currently serving in the U.S. military.
Student senators from the Emmetsburg campus are reaching out to the community by donating money for a wreath to grace the Veteran’s Memorial in downtown Emmetsburg. And Estherville campus student senators are hosting a free meal over the lunch hour for veterans.
In recent years, ILCC has certified GI Bill benefits for nearly 100 student veterans and their dependents, as well as opening Veteran Centers on two campuses, providing places for students to gather and receive social support from fellow veterans.
Wisconsin’s Chippewa Valley Technical College held the fourth annual Give Vets a Smile event on Nov. 3. The event offers free dental care to veterans, who do not have dental care as part of the regular veterans’ benefits, unless the problem is service-related. Approximately 75 veterans are served each year by local dentists, hygienists, dental assistants and CVTC students and faculty volunteering their time. This year, more services were added for the veterans, including COPD screening, nutrition screening and diabetes education, flu shots, assistive device assessments and recommendations and even free haircuts and chair massages.
“We wanted to provide better services for the veterans and also provide interdisciplinary experiences for our students,” CVTC Respiratory Therapy Instructor Donald Raymond said.
Students from heath information management technology, nursing, dental assistant, dental hygienist, respiratory therapy, barber-cosmetology and physical therapy assistant programs were involved.
Bunker Hill Community College in Massachusetts has a week of events, including a poetry reading, displays of artwork and a ribbon cutting for the Veterans Center’s new location. And this year’s events at Edmonds Community College in Washington will pay special tribute to World War I veterans on the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day.
“It’s important to remember that our freedom is not free, but rather an inheritance safeguarded and passed on by generations before us to those currently serving and others who will come after us,” said Chris Szarek, director of the college’s Veterans Resource Center (VRC) and retired U.S. Navy Seabee.
In California, 59 community colleges will be able to better support student veterans well beyond Veterans Day. The California Community Colleges Board of Governors authorized $8.5 million in grant funding for college Veterans Resource Centers. The funds will be used to increase the numbers of veterans earning a degree or certificate or transferring to a university.
Annually, the California Community Colleges enrolls approximately 80,000 veterans and active duty service members.