MCC recognized as a ‘veteran-friendly school’

By: Maria Allard | C&G Newspapers | Published January 7, 2019

 The Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency has recognized Macomb Community College as a certified veteran-friendly school. Pictured is U.S. Army veteran Isaiah White, who attended the college’s “The 2018 Photographic Journey of Macomb’s Veterans” exhibit in November.

The Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency has recognized Macomb Community College as a certified veteran-friendly school. Pictured is U.S. Army veteran Isaiah White, who attended the college’s “The 2018 Photographic Journey of Macomb’s Veterans” exhibit in November.

Photo provided by Macomb Community College

MACOMB COUNTY — Macomb Community College is taking good care of its military veterans, according to the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency, or MVAA.

The MVAA recently recognized MCC as a certified veteran-friendly school by awarding the college gold-level recognition for the fourth consecutive year.

The MVAA’s veteran-friendly school program recognizes institutions of higher learning for their commitment to support student veterans and their dependents in utilizing their GI Bill and navigating other educational resources. The MVAA awards gold-, silver- and bronze-level status to institutions that offer veteran-centric services and programs.

“We’re really happy,” said Kara Fields, MCC’s director of veteran services. “We’re proud that we were able to be recognized.”

MCC opened its Office of Veteran and Military Services at the South Campus in Warren in March of 2017. Fields said the office serves as a primary point of contact for veterans and active service members who are MCC students. Some students are living with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, and others are experiencing challenges returning to civilian life. The office provides support in those and other areas.

At the office, students can gather and receive support in many areas, including information about education benefits, financial aid, scholarships, textbook funding, medical care, tutoring and more. MCC also helps student veterans better understand the GI Bill and the VA home loan process. All branches of the armed forces are welcome, as are family members of veterans and active military members.

“We look at what students need,” Fields said. “It’s all about student success. Our office is focused on getting to know our students. Getting to know the individual students and their spouses is very fulfilling and rewarding.”

The veterans are all ages and share stories about the times in which they served.

Several outside donors provide the funding that, in turn, is distributed through the office so students can continue with their education. The top three donors are Sandi Jones for providing $25,000 a year to the Veterans of the United States Scholarship Fund; Amy Robinson-Coleman, of the Robinson-Coleman Endowment Fund for Veteran and Military Services; and Leslie Vitale, of the Leslie and Del Corey Family Endowed Scholarship Fund.

“Some donors really wanted to give back to the veterans (with) some funding,” Fields said.

In the past year, the college serviced about 1,500 military students who were veterans, active military members and family members. Students with a need that cannot be funded through the office are referred to other resources.

U.S. Army veteran Isaiah White, 34, is one hardworking student who received scholarship money from the office. White was still in the military when he began planning to attend the college in March 2014. Two months later, he enrolled in the school and “fell in love with it.”

White has earned two associate degrees, one in general studies and one in art. He also earned a community leadership certification. White is currently taking classes in pre-social work and plans to attend either Oakland University or Wayne State University.

While at MCC, White has worked inside the Office of Veteran and Military Services by helping student veterans who utilize the office.

“I love Macomb. I really don’t want to leave. The staff is wonderful,” White said. “I recommend to every vet to come here.”

White’s wife, Tiffani, is also a student at MCC. They have three children: Isaiah, 13; Erika, 12; and Amirah, 9; and also care for their niece Alayiha Dickerson, 8.

White, of Highland Park, served in the military from 2002 to 2014 with three tours of Iraq.

“It had its ups and downs,” said White, who performed carpentry and masonry work. “I discovered lifelong friends. The tough part was being in combat areas. I met some Iraqi locals. Many of them were very nice.”

The MVAA rankings are awarded based on a set of criteria including if the school has established a process for identifying current student veterans, has veteran-specific career services, offers an on-campus veterans coordinator or designated point of contact, and more.

The MVAA is a state government agency within the Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. It serves as the central coordinating point for Michigan veterans, connecting those who have served in the U.S. armed forces and their families to services and benefits throughout the state.

For more information about MCC’s Office of Veteran and Military Services, call (586) 445-7999.