For some Central Oregon veterans, adjusting to civilian life can be a challenge. The transition may be especially hard for younger veterans, who are often left to cope alone in a bleak economy with few job prospects.
But four new work-study positions at the Central Oregon Community College Veterans Center are giving former service members the opportunity to make a difference.
These new student employees will specialize in providing outreach to all veterans, giving information on post-military job hunting, alcohol and drug treatment, mental health issues, and post traumatic stress disorder.
The new work-study positions were assigned exclusively for COCC veterans at the beginning of spring term 2012. Like other work-study arrangements, students will earn federal grant money toward their educations while working part-time.
For student Mark Triplett, holding a work-study position at the vet center has helped ease his transition into civilian life. Triplett, a 10-year Navy veteran, heard about the opportunity at a vet center meeting winter term 2012.
“It’s a nice place to come and study,” Triplett said. “I like coming here to eat my lunch and borrow books from the lending library.”
The importance of these student jobs should not be underestimated, explained Greg Ford, office manager of the Central Oregon Vet Center in Bend. Veterans like Ford know how hard it is to make the transition from soldier to civilian.
“These vets who are going back to school are trying hard to piece together some type of structure and routine in their lives,” said Ford. “The Veterans Center on campus helps them accomplish this.”
The new work-study positions also help alleviate the mounting problem of unemployment among new veterans, especially those coming back from tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some of the highest rates of unemployment in the nation are found among veterans ages 22 to 30, according to a May 2011 New York Times report.
“Why not pay these veterans to do what they’re best at: helping their fellow service members when they get out (of the military),” said Ford. “These ‘work-study for vets’ positions pay students to help others while they themselves learn and plan for their own futures.”
According to Ford, it’s money well spent.