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CNM to Offer New Support Services to Veterans

CNM is in the process of establishing a VetSuccess Center, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (V.A.). "This program is intended to help veterans make the transition from war and military life to higher education and employment," said Dean of Students Dr. Rudy Garcia, the CNM point of contact with the V.A.


The Center will be located in the Disability Resource Center on the second floor of the Student Services Center on Main Campus. It will be staffed by a full-time, 40-hour-a-week counselor from the V.A. Albuquerque Regional Office. Plans are in the works to add a part-time therapist on campus one day a week, as well as to provide services on other CNM campuses. A pilot program in assisting veteran students with traumatic brain injuries (TBI) is also a possibility.


Services offered by the counselor will include:
• On-campus outreach

• Transition support services

• Referrals to V.A. medical and mental health services

• Adjustment and career counseling (specific to veterans' benefits and issues)

• Assistance in applying for other V.A. benefits

• Job placement assistance (in coordination with local veterans' programs)

• Expertise to the CNM community on the veteran experience

• Referrals to campus services as necessary

• V.A.-ensured access to the resources necessary to provide services to veterans on campus.


The counselor position will answer directly to the VA Regional Office in Albuquerque. "I will be working on establishing a training schedule for the counselor to meet all the Student Services directors and learn more about their areas," Dr. Garcia said. "I will also be taking the counselor to visit other campuses."


He added, "I am very excited about hosting this center. We have approximately 1,000 veterans already at CNM and wouldn't be surprised to have more in the future. I see a lot of them in my office because of issues related to post-traumatic stress disorder, divorce, unfamiliarity with college and the classroom environment, and other concerns. One student compared adjusting to civilian life to being shot off to Mars."


Garcia thanked Louis Adams from CNM's Financial Aid office for referring the V.A. to CNM to start a dialogue about the possibility of this new service. Adams does outreach with the V.A. to inform veterans on educational benefits.


Another new opportunity for veterans at CNM is free job training in green building and energy occupations. Veterans are one of the populations eligible for this program, offered by the CNM Solar Center of Excellence at the Workforce Training Center (WTC). Classes and workshops in photovoltaic (solar electric) and solar thermal technology are offered at the WTC; additional curriculum is provided in collaboration with other community colleges, including biofuels and green building/energy efficiency (Santa Fe Community College) and wind energy (Mesalands Community College). The training is funded by a State Energy Sector Partnership Program (SESP) grant from the U.S. Department of Labor as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).