Programs and organizations at NMSU aim to help veterans transition to student life
For many veterans, returning to civilian life can be a big challenge. Meeting new people, getting an education and figuring out how to make ends meet can become overwhelming for those returning home. Hector Sanchez, Director of the Military and Veterans Assistance Programs at NMSU says that they face many unique challenges.
“The first challenge is just getting back into civilian life. Many of our servicemen when they are in, everything is not necessarily done for them but there is a structure of how they are to do things and a chain of command. Well when they leave the military they don't have that anymore,” Sanchez said.
According to College Factual, NMSU has 620 students on the G.I. Bill, meaning that those students have most or all of their tuition covered. The Military and Veterans Assistance Programs are also there to provide support.
“Our programs and our offices main objective is to offer advocacy for our students. All the way from getting admitted to the university as well as graduation. We also do a financial aid aspect as well,” Sanchez said.
The Military and Veterans Assistance Programs also employs veterans like Sari Fresquez creating a very welcoming environment for veterans.
“So, I served 4 years on active duty. I was a chemical specialist, so we essentially teach people how to use protective gear against any type of nuclear attack, chemical attack, biological attack,” Fresquez said.
While working towards her degree in biology, Sari works as a VA facilitator for the program helping veterans go over the hurdles she knows well.
“We come from a different culture and sometimes I feel like they may feel like they are isolated. I did myself. But luckily there are organizations here that do provide for us to ease our transition,”Fresquez said.
One of these organizations is the Student Veterans Organization, a group for veterans by veterans. After serving in the navy for 20 years, president Nathan Mullenniex wants to provide a different type of assistance.
“Our mission is to help veterans and people interested in helping veterans have the resources and tools to succeed in their higher education and after graduation. Mainly it provides a space to meet other students who have had similar life experiences and kinda help each other out,” Mullenniex said.
Sari Fresquez says the programs at the university can make a difference for veterans.
“For somebody who has been in for 4 years or 22 years, or whatever their circumstances are, I think NMSU has done a very good job at helping veterans and their dependents. I'm glad I chose a school that is comfortable with other veterans,” Fresquez said.
According to Pew Research, 47 percent of post 9/11 veterans say that readjusting to civilian life was difficult. When combined with starting college for the first time, turning home is made all the more difficult. With programs like the Military and Veterans Assistance Programs and student run organizations like the Student Veterans Organization, many are hoping to make the adjustment easier.