Federal grant funds veterans center on the Pruitt campus

Veterans CenterThe lobby in Building D, more commonly known as the home of the Schreiber Conference Center, welcomes visitors to the new Veterans Center of Excellence on Indian River State College’s Pruitt Campus in Port St. Lucie. INDIAN RIVER STATE COLLEGE PHOTOS

BY SUSAN BURGESS

Hundreds of veterans will walk a smoother path to civilian life and a good career with the help of the new Veterans Center of Excellence at Indian River State College’s Pruitt Campus.

Veterans cCenter
Andy Treadwell, campus president, says the funds will help pay for two advisers to help students with their G.I. benefits.

Designed especially for them with the help of a $449,966 grant from the U.S.

Department of Education, the center pulls together a variety of veteran-related services and puts it all together in one building.

“It’s a great resource for veterans,” said student Robert Rodgers, 35, a Navy veteran and medic who served for 13.5 years. “If you’ve never been to college it can be intimidating, but here, if there are things you need or want to know, help is there with just one phone call. They take care of everything.” 

Part of the federal funding is going toward the expansion of the college’s veterans center on its Fort Pierce campus. At least 500 veterans attend IRSC but St. Lucie County is home to 24,000 veterans. The Treasure Coast, including Okeechobee County, is home to 57,000 veterans. 

The Veterans Center of Excellence will make life easier.

“As a military veteran, I know firsthand that the transition from the service to civilian life comes with a unique set of challenges,” IRSC president, Dr. Timothy Moore, said. “We are grateful to the U.S. Department of Education for this opportunity.” 

The grant helps pay for two full-time advisers who help students with their GI benefits, said Andy Treadwell, president of the campus named for former state Senate President Ken Pruitt.

Veterans Center
U.S. Navy recruiter Glenn Legwin shares a laugh with a group of event attendees, including Christine Denaro, right, as he explains the many advantages offered to students who have served in the military at the new Veterans Center of Excellence. Many residents, veterans and students were at the opening of the center.

“We want our advisers to tell them how and where to get what they need so they can start here and get all the way to the end [graduate],” Treadwell said.

Veterans Center
James S. “Hammer” Hartsell, executive director of the state Department of Veterans Affairs and a retired Marine Corps major general, addresses attendees during opening ceremonies for the center.

The GI Bill of Rights in its current form helps eligible veterans pay for job training, college, graduate school — tuition and fees, books and supplies, and housing, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

“Here we can coordinate wrap-around support services for our student veterans from a single location,” Moore said.

The center provides services designed to remove the burden of having to find what veterans need themselves. Those services include an academic adviser, benefits adviser, registration and application advising, records services and tutoring services.

The center is in Building D, which is better known as the home of the Schreiber Conference Center, named for the late Port St. Lucie resident Strelsa Schreiber who was a college foundation board member, newspaper columnist and a person much loved by the community. Besides advisers offices it also houses a computer lab, a student veterans lounge, classrooms for study and a conference room for events such as Veterans Affairs workshops, career fairs and other gatherings. The same building also is home to support programs for nonveterans. 

Treadwell said veterans organizations will be able to use the larger space. Student veterans can relax and chat with each other in the lounge, and there will be a monthly roundtable discussion on topics of interest. 

The site also houses the Indian River State College Veterans Center of Excellence Wall of Honor, a permanent recognition of veterans.

“Our veterans have sacrificed so much for our nation and for each of us, and with the new center, we are poised to help them throughout their academic journey — from application to graduation and beyond,” Moore said.

See the original article in the print publication

March 03, 2022

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