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Veterans receive support, benefits at MCC

Veterans office

After leaving the military, some veterans may already know what they will be doing in their civilian life. However, there may be some that aren’t sure what they want to do or are looking for a new start following military duty.

Metropolitan Community College has become a hub for veterans looking to further their education or change career fields following military retirement. There are many benefits veterans have access to while attending MCC and they are taking advantage of them.

“We normally have between 1,200 and 1,500 using their VA Education Benefits,” said Wilma Hjellum, director of Financial Aid and Veterans Affairs. “The number is larger for veterans attending school and no longer have any VA Education Benefits but using Financial Aid or other resources.”

MCC has a full-service office that aids veterans in the enrollment process, Hjellum said. Staff can show them how to access tuition benefits, enrolling in classes and more.

The College has many benefits available to veterans, including various G.I. Bills, Nebraska tuition waivers and even benefits for spouses of active service members. Some branches of the military also offer tuition assistance that can be used along with VA benefits. Paired with MCC’s already low tuition rates, veterans can receive a first-class education at a very minimal cost.

Demetria Geralds, a fashion student at MCC, retired from the U.S. Air Force after 20 years and came to MCC to further her education. The Veterans Affairs office helped her get enrolled and eventually helped her when she switched majors.

“It’s a wealth of resources,” she said. “The Veterans office has been a great support and had the best guidance.”

For veterans who aren’t sure where to start, MCC is offering a new program that can give guidance. Veterans Upward Bound is new to the College and is available for up to 125 veterans a year looking to further post-secondary education.

“We offer study skills, English, math—anything that prevents them from going to college, we will help them with,” said Cynthia Gooch-Grayson, associate vice president of Equity and Diversity at the College.

Veterans Upward Bound helps aid students get started on their educational journey, Gooch-Greyson said, whatever path it is that they choose.

“Let’s say a veteran comes in and they want to get a certificate in welding, they can do that here. If they want to get an associate degree and then transfer, we can help them do that,” Gooch-Greyson said. “The College’s slogan is ‘start here, go anywhere.’ We are a great first step for those veterans to go anywhere.”

To learn more about the benefits for veterans at MCC, visit mccneb.edu/veterans or call 531-MCC-2400. To learn more about Veterans Upward Bound, call 402-MCC-2649.