Signing for veterans’ success

As a commuter school, Bellevue College has a variety of resources to service a wide demographic of students. One of these tools is the Veterans’ Resource Office, which aims to guide and provide veterans with the information and resources they need to succeed in college and with job placement. On Monday, Nov. 9, President David Rule signed a memorandum with Deputy Director of the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs Gary Condra, which signifies BC’s duty to promote veterans’ success and the school’s dedication to provide “the best possible educational experience,” according to the memorandum.

President David Rule and Gary Condra sign Memorandum.
President David Rule and Gary Condra sign Memorandum.

With BC being named as one of the most military friendly schools in Washington by Victory Media, a company that surveys institutions and provides information for active service men and women, the signing of the memorandum comes at an appropriate time. Victory Media surveys schools using categories such as academic credibility, support on campus, tuition assistance and other academic components. Out of the 10 survey categories, Victory Media places the greatest weight on academic credibility, at 25 percent and support on campus at 15 percent.

In response to BC being a military-friendly school, Rule believes that signing the memorandum will only benefit the college. “Recognition like that will continue to draw veterans who have often times already proven themselves to be self-motivated and self-reliant, and to use the GI bill to further their education,” said Rule.

Moreover, the signing of the memorandum is directly related to BC’s recognition as a military friendly school. There are eight goals written in the memorandum which are dedicated to veterans’ success. According to the memorandum, some of these goals are to “create a culture of trust and connectedness across the campus community to promote well being and success for veterans” and “coordinate and centralize campus efforts for all veterans, together with the creation of a designed space (even if limited in size).”

The signing was a public event held next to the veterans’ statue near the library. “Anytime you can provide a very visible support for a group like the veterans, it provides them the opportunity to self-identify and take advantage of all the financial aid and the other services that are available to them,” explained Rule. “Veterans in particularly often times have difficulty identifying themselves.”

Furthermore, Rule hopes that through the public signing, veterans become more aware of the various services and resources that BC offers to ensure success.

“So, when you hold a public event like this, it basically helps them to reach out and it gives them almost a permission to identify themselves as a veteran,” said Rule.

Condra, who served in the United States Army Medical Corps, believes the memorandum is an important step for BC to better serve veterans. “This shows the commitment from the college to show that we’re going to collectively work together to support veterans and make sure that they’re successful in school,” said Condra. Through the signing, Condra is determined to help veterans who recently came out of active duty to transition smoothly into a civilian lifestyle and effectively utilize the G.I. Bill.

“The big challenge is that we have thousands of veterans coming out of active duty right now into this community and they’re making choices,” explained Condra, “We need to be able to be supportive for them, because right now, there are situations happening where they come out of the military and there are concerns of making that transition smoothly from the military.”

In addition, BC will also have a member from the VetCorps who will serve as a navigator for veterans. “You need someone to understand what you’ve been through, so you can establish those bonds and have support networks,” said Condra, “This is a person who’s been through similar experiences, who can connect with the veterans that are going through school. “Unfortunately right now, we’re experiencing an awful amount of suicides through the reintegration process. It’s almost 22 veterans a day,” added Condra. Through the availability of a navigator, Condra hopes to change this number.

The memorandum will stay active for two years. During that time, BC will be advancing their resources to help their veteran students. “This generation of veterans has unlimited potential; they can do anything they want to. But we need to help them be able to relax, stand down from the military experience and figure out what it is that they want to do next in life,” concluded Condra.