Newly renovated Veteran’s Resource Center expands
By Elizabeth Casella and Maren Giordano
Intern and Staff Writer
This year, the day devoted to honoring our veteran’s marked a day of giving back as well. On Nov. 11 Schoolcraft celebrated the opening of the newly renovated and expanded Veteran’s Resource Center (VRC) in the McDowell Center, Room 240. The center is devoted to helping individuals who have served the nation and attend Schoolcraft College after returning from duty and assimilating into civilian life once again.
The VRC is dedicated to offering many services, such as assistance with paperwork, financial aid and a safe place to relieve the stress of the day.
“This is a place that veterans can call their own on campus. We offer computers, a TV, a fax machine, printer, copier and other services that veteran students have free access to at any time,” said Pam Paxton-Keehner, Veteran’s Service Coordinator.
She continued saying the center is a place where these students can connect with each other and truly be themselves. Paxton-Keehner has been actively involved with veteran services on campus since 2009.
On June 1, 1954, Nov. 11 became known as the official day to honor all American veterans, not only dedicated to those who served in war for their patriotism, love of their country and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good. The VRC was unveiled on this day to honor veterans at Schoolcraft and thank them for their service.
“I have thought about this project for years. It has been great to see a dream of mine accomplished today, with the opening of the VRC. This ceremony was to honor our veterans, plain and simple,” said Dr. Conway Jeffress, President of Schoolcraft College.
Plans have been in action for at least four years to reconstruct the center. The center is hoping to expand from the small space it currently occupies in the future, if there is a need for it, but 240 is the permanent location for years to come with room to expand.
“I served in the military, and after returning home, it was hard for me to adjust to college life to receive my degree in Metal Engineering,” said veteran Edward Papciak. “A program like this is great for fellow veterans, and I wish I have had the opportunity to have the assistance this program offers. It is nice to see such a significant program like this.”
The main purpose of the center is to offer assistance for veteran students through scholarship, counseling and job opportunities in the community. Paperwork for veterans may be confusing to fill out, but the office staff is willing to help students. The office also takes veterans through the process of integrating into the college environment step-by-step.
“This really helps the college focus on a unique group of students who are usually a little older and need help to integrate back into not only college life, but civilian life,” said Jim Fausone, member of the Schoolcraft Board of Trustees. “They have a unique source of support here from people who are dedicated to helping them with anything they need.”
There are 220 known veteran students on campus that this program appeals to and 680,000 veterans in Michigan. Significant numbers of veterans attend college once returning from duty. This center is one of the first in a college within the entire state and is a milestone for Michigan as well as Schoolcraft.
Benefits are available for those who served in the military through state legislation. These benefits can be found through the Veteran’s Resource Center.
“I feel that it is awesome that the campus is supporting veterans in this way. Veterans deserved to be honored and it is great that the college wants to help them get back to civilian life as much as possible,” said student Jenny Sopko.
In addition to the opening of the VRC, a swing dance benefit is being hosted by Phi Theta Kappa on Dec. 19 to honor veterans and raise funds for the Disabled American Veterans in the DiPonio room in the VisTaTech Center at 7 p.m. For more information on the dance call the Student Activities Office at 734-462-4422.
Veterans Resource Center
McDowell Center (240)
Tue-Fri: 8am to 4:30 p.m.
Pam Paxton-Keehner Veterans Services Coordinator P: 734-462-4400, x5346 firstname.lastname@example.org