Berkeley Reaches Out To Military Veterans

When the cheering stops and the “welcome home” signs come down, many believe that returning veterans go back to families and jobs, and everyone is happy. During a recent press conference held at the Berkeley College Newark Campus, however, Dr. Richard E. Robitaille, assistant vice president of the Office of Military and Veterans Affairs, reported that the reality is often very different.

“Many veterans joined the military when they were 18 — right out of high school — and they spent five or six years in service,” said Dr. Robitaille, a combat veteran of the U.S. Army where he currently has 20 years of service. “These young men and women return home to find that their peer group has graduated from college and is well established in corporate careers or trades. Meanwhile, the veterans find themselves at a distinct disadvantage when entering the American workforce.”

In June, when Congress passed the new Post-9/11 GI Bill to help military personnel achieve a college education, Berkeley College established the Office of Military and Veterans Affairs to reach out and support veterans and those serving active duty. Currently, this office assists students through the Yellow Ribbon Program under the GI Bill, as well as through partnerships with the National Guard and the Navy College Program Distance Learning Partnership.

“In June we became the 34th partner with the US. Navy to provide distance learning to active duty sailors,” said Dr. Robitaille. “This is a unique and elite program, and we already have sailors enrolled at Berkeley College.”
 
The Berkeley College Office of Military and Veterans Affairs is extensively reaching out to N.J. National Guard units and working with servicemen and women who recently returned from Iraq. Websites have been set up for each of the military branches to help potential students sort though the new benefits, and College staff are readily available to answer questions.

“We have undertaken massive internal training programs for our admissions, financial aid, and student account staff,” said Dr. Robitaille.
 
According to Darren West of Maplewood, N.J., a master sergeant in the U.S. Army Reserves, this type of outreach is extremely important for returning veterans as well as for those currently in military service.

“Many servicemen and veterans are not aware of the benefits available to them through the GI Bill and their military units,” said Master Sgt. West, who has served for 20 years and is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Justice Studies/Criminal Justice at the Berkeley College Newark Campus.

Robitaille said that the Office of Military and Veterans Affairs will work with veterans to identify and build on military skills that can provide them with an edge in the workplace.

“Peer leadership, team building, and the ability to interact in a diverse environment — these are military skills that can be translated really well into careers in business, business management and criminal justice,” said Robitaille.

In addition to academic support and career preparation, the Office of Military and Veterans Affairs offers personal counseling.

“The major challenge for returning veterans is re-integration into civilian life,” said Berkeley College personal counselor Amanda Frey, who has more than eight years of experience in the field of social work, including time spent at Fort Monmouth in New Jersey. “In the military, their lives were very structured and regimented, whereas at college the environment is much more open and free.”

“Even without school as a factor, returning (from war) was an overall adjustment,” said Master Sgt. West. “You were used to living in constant danger. It was a struggle to adapt.”

Stan Holland, the Newark Campus operating officer, said that — like all Berkeley students — veterans “will benefit greatly from the college’s close-knit family experience, small classes, mandatory internships and lifelong career assistance.”

For more information on the Berkeley College Office of Military and Veterans Affairs, visit www.berkeleycollege.edu/military/index.htm.

When the cheering stops and the “welcome home” signs come down, many believe that returning veterans go back to families and jobs, and everyone is happy. During a recent press conference held at the Berkeley College Newark Campus, however, Dr. Richard E. Robitaille, assistant vice president of the Office of Military and Veterans Affairs, reported that the reality is often very different.

“Many veterans joined the military when they were 18 — right out of high school — and they spent five or six years in service,” said Dr. Robitaille, a combat veteran of the U.S. Army where he currently has 20 years of service. “These young men and women return home to find that their peer group has graduated from college and is well established in corporate careers or trades. Meanwhile, the veterans find themselves at a distinct disadvantage when entering the American workforce.”

In June, when Congress passed the new Post-9/11 GI Bill to help military personnel achieve a college education, Berkeley College established the Office of Military and Veterans Affairs to reach out and support veterans and those serving active duty. Currently, this office assists students through the Yellow Ribbon Program under the GI Bill, as well as through partnerships with the National Guard and the Navy College Program Distance Learning Partnership.

“In June we became the 34th partner with the US. Navy to provide distance learning to active duty sailors,” said Dr. Robitaille. “This is a unique and elite program, and we already have sailors enrolled at Berkeley College.”
 
The Berkeley College Office of Military and Veterans Affairs is extensively reaching out to N.J. National Guard units and working with servicemen and women who recently returned from Iraq. Websites have been set up for each of the military branches to help potential students sort though the new benefits, and College staff are readily available to answer questions.

“We have undertaken massive internal training programs for our admissions, financial aid, and student account staff,” said Dr. Robitaille.
 
According to Darren West of Maplewood, N.J., a master sergeant in the U.S. Army Reserves, this type of outreach is extremely important for returning veterans as well as for those currently in military service.

“Many servicemen and veterans are not aware of the benefits available to them through the GI Bill and their military units,” said Master Sgt. West, who has served for 20 years and is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Justice Studies/Criminal Justice at the Berkeley College Newark Campus.

Robitaille said that the Office of Military and Veterans Affairs will work with veterans to identify and build on military skills that can provide them with an edge in the workplace.

“Peer leadership, team building, and the ability to interact in a diverse environment — these are military skills that can be translated really well into careers in business, business management and criminal justice,” said Robitaille.

In addition to academic support and career preparation, the Office of Military and Veterans Affairs offers personal counseling.

“The major challenge for returning veterans is re-integration into civilian life,” said Berkeley College personal counselor Amanda Frey, who has more than eight years of experience in the field of social work, including time spent at Fort Monmouth in New Jersey. “In the military, their lives were very structured and regimented, whereas at college the environment is much more open and free.”

“Even without school as a factor, returning (from war) was an overall adjustment,” said Master Sgt. West. “You were used to living in constant danger. It was a struggle to adapt.”

Stan Holland, the Newark Campus operating officer, said that — like all Berkeley students — veterans “will benefit greatly from the college’s close-knit family experience, small classes, mandatory internships and lifelong career assistance.”

For more information on the Berkeley College Office of Military and Veterans Affairs, visit www.berkeleycollege.edu/military/index.htm.

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