Vets get support

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The VAC provides help and opportunities to 400-500 veterans

By Chris Major

Some veterans come back from active duty looking to rebuild their lives, continue their education and start on new paths.

The Veterans Assistance Office helps give about 400 to 450 veterans the opportunity to return to class and seek their degrees.

Veterans have several opportunities to receive financial aid, including the Montgomery GI Bill and the Hazelwood Act.

Kelly Murphy, veterans representative and graduate specialist at Amarillo College, said the aid is not only for veterans but also for their families.

“Now there are also programs for their dependents to receive benefits as well,” Murphy said.

Money isn’t the only thing returning vets need. Veterans often need a support system as they make the transition back into normal life.

The AC Veterans Club, led by Marine veteran Angel de la Cruz, offers veterans a chance to meet and talk to others they can relate to.

The club began for post-World War II veterans in 1946. Discontinued during the Vietnam War, the club was revitalized by De la Cruz.

“We’re there to support each other emotionally, or even if their car breaks down,” he said. “We help each other.”

Club secretary Norman Bearden said the club is useful for veterans because of the resources they have access to.

“We have representatives from all major branches, which gives us a lot of aid,” Bearden said. “It provides a network of help for veterans, whether it’s employment, textbooks or financial situations.”The club has many events, such as a veterans luncheon on Friday and the Air Force birthday celebration on Sept. 19.

VAC has joined with the Student Veterans of America, which allows members to communicate with veterans all over the nation and take advantage of more scholarship opportunities.

The club is constantly active and looking for more recruits. Bearden said there has to be interaction with social media if they want the club to grow.

“We’re looking to connect in a way the youth communicates, such as the Internet or the Amarillo College radio station,” he said.

For more information about VAC, look on Facebook under “Veterans of Amarillo College” or visit the Veterans Assistance Office on the Washington Street Campus.


Originally published: Tuesday, September 13, 2011

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