Veteran Enrollment At AACC Continues To Increase

Neil Kenworthy, Editor

A new Military Veteran Resource Center will soon be in the Truxal Library. This is part of Anne Arundel Community College’s continuing mission of redesigning yourself.

“We’re in a position where we’re really trying to put a positive light on our veteran community and spread awareness,” said Harlan Harrell, who is the Military/Veterans Student Success Retention Advisor.

In 2014, veteran enrollment stood at 1,567. Now veteran enrollment has increased to about 2,200, according to Harrell.

While the increase in enrollment is a sign of benefits associated with the GI Bill, military and veteran students face different challenges when compared to civilian students.

“Military learners are very intense, dedicated learners with strong cognition,” said Harrell. “There are job consequences when they don’t learn.”

The Veteran Resource Center plays a large part in helping ease the challenges veterans face when continuing their education, according to Harrell.

There are currently ten veterans working in the Veteran Resource Center with a goal to help military/veteran student’s transition from service to higher learning.

“I’ve had a few incidents over the past few years that have driven me to become more active with my brothers and sisters,” said Mike Stevens, who is a former Marine and Student Manager of the Veteran Resource Center. “When I met Harlan, he thought I would be perfect for the job and it’s been rolling from there.”

Stevens wanted to be a part of the solution to the problems veterans were having and this was a position where he could have an impact on the community, Harrell said.

The AACC Chapter of Student Veterans of America works with the Veteran Resource Center in order to give military/veteran students the best chance of success.

“I’m more of a public figure for the organization,” said Francheska Salazar, who is President of the AACC Chapter of Student Veterans of America. “I enjoy working with students and know a lot about the GI Bill, I’m kind of like an information resource to a lot of them.”

The Military Veteran Resource Center is expected to complete its move to the library at the end of this semester.  AACC President Dawn Lindsey first discussed this while having a cup of coffee with a couple of veterans, according to Harrell.

“The library is a quiet learning place, a place where veterans have access to services, plus there’s a garden outside the window too,” said Harrell. “I just think it is a much better situation moving forward.”

Veteran Services are currently located in the Student Achievement and Success Program (SASP) directed by Janice Watley.