There’s something heartwarming about the stories showing military men and women returning home to the open arms of spouses and children. As a community, we tie yellow ribbons around trees and possibly show up to a parade, thanking our veterans for their service.
Certainly, the day a veteran returns home is a day to celebrate, but what next? How can we give continued support after the plane has landed and the crowd has cleared?
Since 2009, more than two million service members have returned from deployment in Afghanistan and Iraq. Of these, approximately 1.4 million have left active duty and began their transition to civilian life.
Unfortunately, many veterans face challenges adjusting to civilian life, including navigating post-secondary institutions, and are at risk for unemployment, homelessness and medical issues.
With 650,000+ veterans currently residing in Arizona, a large amount will be seeking educational support as they transition from military service to civilian life.
The Veteran Student Success Project is centered on creating a state-wide infrastructure that will support military personnel, veterans and their families as they transition from active duty to civilian life.
The Maricopa Community Colleges Foundation is a top leader in providing higher education opportunities and services designed to optimize veterans’ professional and personal success.
Servicemen and women spend days, months and even years in war zones, trying to restore stability in extremely unstable conditions. Having a stable home and community to return home to not only makes the transition easier, but also helps in the years of struggle many veterans face.
The struggle is real
According to an article published in the LA Times, suicides among veterans are 50 percent higher than those who have not served in the military, with an average of one suicide each day.
Interestingly, the affects of war weren’t cited as the main cause. The challenges of post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injuries, physical disabilities and transition were factors resulting in barriers to education, employment and the overall well-being of veterans.
“One suicide is one suicide too many,” said Task and Purpose author Stacy Bare. “Effective programming to help service members, veterans and families transition to a positive life after service in their first three years home from service is a must.”
Striving for more
One of the main transitional difficulties leading to veteran suicide is the barrier to education and employment. The Maricopa Community Colleges Foundation offers programs to ease the transition.
Approximately 36 percent of veterans have applied to use their GI Bill for education, which means that about 720,000 veterans are planning to enter higher education institutions after deployments.
The Veteran Student Success Project in Maricopa is centered on creating a statewide infrastructure that will support military personnel, veterans and their families as they transition from active duty to civilian life.
A simple ‘Thanks’
Morgan Slade, contributor to militaryspouse.com said, “There are so many things that can and should be done to support our veterans, but before we can approach those issues we need to revive the defining force that has — for decades now — prodded men and women to leave the safety of home to venture into the most evil places of the world to fight for not only family and friends but complete strangers, and that force is love. Verbally supporting our veterans is so important and very appreciated, but our support has to go beyond the utterance of gratitude.”
About Maricopa Community Colleges Foundation: The Maricopa Community Colleges Foundation is raising $14 million to help the Maricopa Community Colleges become a national leader in the delivery of higher education opportunities to veterans. Several projects will be funded including a West Valley Veterans Education Center to provide educational outreach and college advisement services to West Valley veterans and their families at no cost.
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