Washtenaw Community College has again been named as a Gold-level Veteran-Friendly School by the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency.
Gold-level honor means the college met at least six of seven Michigan Veteran-Friendly Schools program criteria, such as hosting an on-campus veterans’ coordinator, offering veteran-specific career, advising and other support services, establishing a system to evaluate and award academic credit based on military experience, and hosting a veterans-specific website and student veterans club.
“WCC is unwaveringly committed to serving veterans who have so bravely defended our freedoms,” said college President Dr. Rose Bellanca. “We are proud to be recognized again as a Gold-level Veteran-Friendly School and will continue to work hard to support our students who’ve given so much to us.”
Nearly 500 veteran students are enrolled at WCC, and the college offers comprehensive support services to veterans and their families through its Wadhams Veterans Center, including an active Student Veterans of America Club on campus.
This year, WCC also became a Michigan Connector school by partnering with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the United States Department of Veterans Affairs to bring the Governor’s Challenge to Prevent Suicide Among Service Members, Veterans and their Families to communities across Michigan.
Veterans enrolled at Washtenaw Community College receive more than an education.
“Our mission is to not only serve our veteran students in their pursuit of education, but also to serve them in every other area of their life,” said Carol Osborne, WCC’s military and veteran coordinator.
Through the Michigan Veteran Connector program, employees of a school, business or organization work with their veterans to connect them to all available resources – from health care to job training to suicide prevention resources.
Staff also learn better ways to communicate with veterans to understand their needs.
Osborne said WCC has worked hard to create an environment where veterans can succeed, even if it’s as simple as offering a cup of coffee and tutoring help in the Student Center.
“My hope is that they find a place here at WCC where they can connect, build relationships and encourage each other in the transition from service to college because it really is a change,” she said. “Building that sense of community is key. If they don’t feel they belong, that’s a real hinderance to their education.”
This year, the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency has recognized 35 universities, colleges or trade schools with dual certification as both a Veteran-Friendly School and a Michigan Veteran Connector. WCC is part of the first group of higher education institutions to be dual-certified.