A growing number of men and women coming home from serving out country are coming to Rochester to start their lives. If you're a vet and you've been hesitant to go back to school this may change your mind when you see how easy it can be.
According to the Rochester Regional Veterans College Consortium there are more than 2,000 veterans going to school at the 19 colleges in our area. Nazareth is one college going above and beyond to serve those who have served.
As a new school year begins at Nazareth College there are a record number of veterans on campus. Like U-S Marines J.C. Bukowiec and Pete Beck. Pete grew up in Canandaigua and heard Nazareth was veteran friendly. "It's been incredible, Everyone is so helpful and they're really just here for you, for the student."
Pete called his buddy J-C in California and told him about Nazareth. "I talked to my wife, came up here to visit. Loved the area, loved the school and decided to give it a shot."
Nazareth College President Daan Braveman says Nazareth was the first college in New York to help vets make up the financial gap between what the GI Bill paid for and the cost of tuition. "We believe at Nazareth College that schools of higher education have the obligation to make sure our returning vets have the knowledge, the skills and the abilities to get jobs and become productive civilians."
Recruiting veterans is a high priority here at Nazareth. From last fall to this fall the number has almost doubled, going form 38 to 60. And when you add in active military, people in the Guard and Reserve, the number jumps to 100.
Nazareth even has an Office of Veteran Affairs on campus. It's run by Jeremy Bagley, an Army veteran. He works closely with Monroe Community College, which also has a large veteran population, to recruit active duty service men and women on bases all over the country. Their goal is help veterans succeed. "My hope for them is that when we bring them here what we do is we work with them to make sure that all the basics are taken care of. You know if you're worried about legal matters, if you're worried about housing, if you're worried about your benefits, you're mind isn't on your studies. And ultimately at the end of the day that's what you need to have your mind on when you're here. If we're helping them take care of those things then they're gong to be successful in the classroom."
"It's great just knowing they've got out back and they're here to help us" says Pete. "They want to help us, it's really awesome."
J.C. adds "Everybody seems like they bend over backwards to give us the opportunities we need to get things done. Just pretty much give us a smooth experience."
And the plan is to not let veterans like J.C. and Pete go after college. They'll be set up with internships at local companies. Many are run by veterans. Braveman says it will help them find jobs here when they're done with school. "There will be hundreds of thousands of returning veterans in the next couple of years. I really think this area has an opportunity to become a magnet for veterans. I mean we've got 19 colleges in this area."
Braveman says everyone wins, veteran students, the college and the community.
At Nazareth College Jeremy Bagley is Coordinator of Veteran Student Enrollment and Support Services. He's happy to answer all your questions. Jeremy can be reached at 585-389-5017. Or for a link to the Nazareth College website click here.