RAYMOND – When it came time to deploy to Kuwait with the Army Reserve, Virginia D. Johnson knew Hinds Community College would have her back like she had the nation’s back.
“I was deployed last year and wasn’t in school,” Johnson said. “But, the Veterans Services Department worked with me to make sure I stayed on track to graduate.”
Johnson, of Jackson, indeed earned an Associate’s of Applied Science on May 14 to pursue her passion of becoming a nurse. She credits Hinds in taking care of the little things to keep her status with the reserve clean and her grades good.
“Whenever I didn’t know what kind of paperwork to submit, they kind of walked me through the steps,” Johnson said. “They let me defer for a year while I was deployed. I came back and it was no problem. The distance learning program was awesome.”
Services that meet the needs of current and former service members are the focus of the college’s Military Appreciation Day at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Muse Center on the Rankin Campus.
Military families will be treated to a day of family-friendly fun wrapped around a chance to pick up information about career services, academic programs, health-related programs and other one- and two-year career and technical programs offered at Hinds.
Hinds’ ability to foster the education of active service members also came in handy for Elizabeth Burgess, a petty officer second class in the U.S. Navy entering the University of Southern Mississippi this fall after transferring from Hinds. She plans to major in anthropology once there.
“Veterans Services helped me realize I didn’t necessarily have to pull out my GI bill to come to school there,” Burgess said. “They just helped me get my paperwork and everything started for USM.”
Both Johnson and Burgess reflect what the Veteran Services office does for active and former service members, office director Ryan Braswell said.
“When I was hired on as the Veteran Services coordinator, my goal was to make using the GI Bill as quick and painless as possible for both the military student and Hinds Community College,” Braswell said.
He said the wide-ranging benefit package afforded by the military may be applied in many ways. “What we found was that students who were active military could actually save their GI Bills and attend Hinds strictly on financial aid,” Braswell said.
Communication is key for any active service member wanting to continue their education and honor their commitment to the nation, Burgess said.
“Always stay in touch with vet services even if you’re not going to use you GI bill,” Burgess said. “They’re there to help guide you and help you through that period.”
The Veterans Health Administration, Veterans Administration Vet Center and Veterans Benefit Administration are expected to offer information at Saturday’s event to service members and their families about an array of benefits. The Office of Veterans’ Benefits will disseminate information on the GI Bill and other various VA Education Programs as well as scholarships available to service members.
Hinds has received national recognition for being a Military Friendly institution. For more information on veterans’ benefits at Hinds Community College, see http://www.hindscc.edu/offices/veterans/index#gsc.tab=0.
For more information on Saturday’s event, contact Braswell at 601.857.3226 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.