By Cathy Zeltner
The Office of Veteran Services is located in the Student Services office. Three staff members are in the office to answer questions and help veterans who need it.
All three staff members are also veterans. The Director of Veterans, Vickie Adams, retired from the Air Force. She was the director of Veteran Services for Monroe County for 14 ½ years. She has a vast knowledge of VA benefits, such as disability, business loans and burial rights.
Veteran Service Representative Yolanda Houle, served 6 years in the Navy. She began as a student worker, using her Montgomery GI Bill benefits, an incentive the military uses to help pay for veterans educations. Houle began as a part time worker in February of 2004 as a VA Processor. After 5 years she became full time as a Customer Service Data Specialist. She is now the VA representative. “I take a lot of pride in what I do, because for me, I’m helping my own people…we are family” Houle said.
Matthew Peternel is the Veteran Services Processor, and is an Army Veteran. He started a week before classes started this semester. He is also a student at Owens Community College.
All of the combined knowledge works to help veterans who have a vast array of questions or problems. “We aren’t here only for those with educational benefits, but for all vets,” said Houle, “We are veterans helping veterans.” If a veteran comes in who is hungry, the Veterans service can help them locate a food pantry or give them information on contacting a county office for help. They can also help with disability claims, financial difficulties or medical questions by informing veterans where they can get help.
The office is planning a Veterans Service Expo, to be held in honor of Veterans Day. The event will include a speaker from the Dove foundation, a foundation that is dedicated to helping to rebuild Vietnam through Vietnam veterans, citizens and Rotarian’s.
Heroes in Action, a nonprofit organization that raises money and awareness for veterans in need, as well as Toys for Tots, and Cell Phones for Soldiers, will also be at the event. The event will take place in College Hall room 100, Wednesday November 9, 2011.