Henderson program helps veterans
Aug. 30, 2012
After returning home from war, many veterans are taking advantage of the educational benefits they earned and are returning to school. Some veterans are unemployed and see a college education as a way to help make them more marketable to employers. Others have jobs and just want to further their education with hopes of better jobs or career advancement for themselves and their family.
In addition to college money, many veterans received free educational assistance from organizations such as the Veterans Upward Bound Program at Henderson State University. Veterans Upward Bound (VUB) is a federally funded grant program from the U.S. Department of Education. Its mission is to assist veterans in their pursuit of post-secondary education. Services are free to the veterans.
At Henderson, the Veterans Upward Bound Program serves a minimum of 120 veterans annually.
Services may include: education about various educational benefits; career exploration and counseling; assistance in the college admission process including help with applications for financial assistance and other scholarships; monthly workshops on a variety of topics pertinent to veterans; prep work in the basic skills of math, science, writing and foreign language; and follow-along services while in school.
VUB Assistant Director Kathy Brownlee said the staff is “honored to work with veterans. There is nothing more worthwhile than giving back to those who give to protect our freedom. We meet some of the most wonderful veterans and their families. I think that working with them gives them a sense of confidence – we want them to feel comfortable in our program and to know that we are here to help them be successful in their post-secondary education and in their future.”
VUB hosts a veteran’s float in the Arkadelphia Christmas Parade each year to honor veterans and, last year, VUB was instrumental in a Veterans Ceremony at the annual Rally on the Ravine festivities leading up to the football game between Ouachita Baptist University and Henderson. The event included a military flyover, guest speakers and a Wall of Honor – a wall where guests could place a star on the wall in honor of a current or fallen veteran. “We are always looking for ways to show tribute to our men and women in uniform. We appreciate all they do for Arkansas and our country Brownlee said.
Many veterans have taken advantage of the services VUB offers, including Michael Dale Chenault and Marvin Greene.
Chenault has 22 years of military service. His service started in 1986. His home unit is C troop 1/151 Cav in Camden. He has had three deployments, including Saudi Arabia in 1999, Iraq in 2004 and Iraq in 2008. Chenault utilized his educational benefits for one semester at SAU Tech between deployments. He attended the nursing program at SAU Tech and graduated with a Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) degree in July 2011. He is presently working at Oakridge Nursing and Rehab as a LPN.
Chenault said he “did not have a vocation other than what I learned in the military so I decided to go to school. I hadn’t been to school in a long time so I was seriously lacking in math skills, among others, and I was really challenged by the entrance exam to get into the nursing program at SAU Tech.”
With the help of the tutoring program the VUB program offered to Chenault, he was able to prepare for the entrance exam and get accepted. “Had I not had VUB, I would have given up and not gone to nursing school. My math was horrible and I couldn’t get close to other students taking the entrance exams for nursing. Had I not had the tutoring VUB helped me get, I would have never been able to do it,” Chenault said.
“We are so proud of Michael. He was 46 when he returned to school and he worked so hard and really gave schooling his all,” said Brownlee. “We could not be happier for him. He deserved it,” Chenault has advice for other veterans thinking of going to school or currently in school -- “Go to school. You have the GI Bill and so many other means to pay for it, use it. Don't settle with just a job when you leave the military, learn a career and be satisfied, don't let the military be the highlight of your working years.”
Green served from 2008–2012 in the Arkansas National Guard. He is currently serving as the assistant regimental S1 of the 3d Cavalry Regiment at Fort Hood, Texas. Green graduated from Henderson with a BBA in Finance in December 2011. Just prior to graduation, he became a commissioned officer for the U.S. Army. While attending Henderson, Green was active in the ROTC program and Phi Beta Sigma. He was also mentoring younger family members while in school.
After entering the National Guard, Green decided to pursue schooling for career advancement. When asked what obstacles he faced while attending school or prior to attending school, he said, “Initially, there were some financial strains that made it more difficult for me in school, but thanks to ROTC and ARNG, I was able to overcome those issues.”
Green advises other veterans thinking of attending school or already in school to “stay focused and keep pushing towards your goals.” When Green was asked about the VUB program at Henderson, he said, “My experience with the VUB program was a very good one. The staff was extremely helpful and willing to answer any questions that I had about the many different incentive/benefit programs. The VUB staff at HSU takes pride in what they do. Every encounter with them left me feeling appreciated and well taken care of. My affiliation with VUB definitely eased some of the stresses of college life.”
“We are so proud of Marvin and his accomplishments,” said Brownlee. “It was wonderful sitting in the audience at his commissioning exercise and watching him shine and be successful. We know only great things are ahead for Marvin and we at VUB wish him many years of success.”
Many veterans share similar successes thanks to the educational benefits available to them and programs such as Veterans Upward Bound. “Henderson was honored to be awarded the grant from the U.S. Department of Education to assist veterans, Brownlee said. “There are only two other VUB programs in the state (Pulaski Tech and University of Arkansas – Fayetteville) and only 47 VUB programs in the entire United States. Our mission is to help the veterans be successful in school and in life. While we play only a small role, we take pride in the work we do and look forward to serving more veterans in the years to come.”
VUB serves Bradley, Clark, Columbia, Dallas, Garland, Hempstead, Hot Spring, Miller, Nevada, Ouachita, Pike, Polk, Union and White counties in Arkansas. For more information on Veterans Upwards Bound at Henderson, please call 870-230-5710 or visit the VUB office on campus at 1020 Hickory Street in Arkadelphia.