Fall 2010 Stories
Evergreen at the Forefront
of Services to Military Veteran Students and Families
By K.T. Cox
Evergreen’s style of student-based learning is a good fit for veterans. The population of student veterans and their families at Evergreen and in Evening and Weekend Studies is expanding, doubling in the past two years. And the numbers are expected to grow. “One thing I really like about Evergreen is that it promotes an inquiring, open-minded atmosphere that fuels learning,” says Army veteran and current Master in Teaching student Josh Simpson, 27, who has taken several Evening and Weekend Studies classes, including The Roman World and Towards Becoming a Teacher.
Currently, 111 veterans and 48 veteran dependents attend Evergreen under the GI bill. Other veterans are attending without GI bill benefits. About 50 percent are attending Evening and Weekend Studies and pursuing their educational goals while maintaining day jobs. The newly implemented GI bill improves services to support veterans and their dependents. “Our goal is to make sure that we stay ahead of the game by being up to date with veterans’ issues, both educational and personal, and that we are serving our veterans in the best way possible,” says Rafael Lozano, veterans’ affairs representative and assistant director for registration programs.
Staying ahead of the game includes hosting Washington’s first state summit on veterans in higher education this May. In addition, the all-campus Veterans of Evergreen Transition and Success Team (VETS), which began two years ago, provides guidance and coordination for veterans returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and their families. Activities include training Evergreen counseling staff on how to treat student veterans diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, two common issues found among combat veterans. The college annually hosts special panels, workshops and guest speakers in conjunction with Veterans’ Day in order to increase awareness of veterans’ issues.
In addition to increased services and visibility, veterans and their dependents are eligible for generous tuition benefits at Evergreen. Veterans’ dependents can receive up to 100 percent tuition waivers and veterans can receive 50 percent tuition waivers year-round, in addition to academic credit for military experience and training. Also, thanks to Evergreen’s unique learning opportunities through independent learning contracts, soldiers can earn academic credit while deployed overseas.
“I have been very impressed with all of the resources available to veterans and how the veterans assistance services have put together great recognition events for student veterans,” says student Sarah Noble, 30, a medically retired U.S. Army sergeant combat veteran pursuing a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies. “I really look forward to each event and can’t wait to get connected with other student veterans.”