We wanted to celebrate Veteran’s Day by reflecting on all of the support our schools give to veterans. Our schools believe in honoring the brave individuals who serve our country not just today but every day of the year. Our community does this through dedicating the time and effort to explore opportunities and assistance for veterans. Leonda Clements, our Veteran Coordinator, is always looking for ways our schools can improve the lives of veterans. To better understand Community HigherEd’s history with supporting veterans, we interviewed Leonda Clements and asked her four of your most asked questions.
Has supporting veterans always been a priority for our colleges?
No, it has not. About five or six years ago, I realized there was an unmet need and our community agreed. Through attending different conferences and workshops, we identified the changes we needed to make and took action. Over the last few years, we have changed the way our veteran scholarships are designed. We can now proudly say that 97% of our veterans to graduate debt free. We have also streamlined the financial aid process for veterans and their families. With School Certifying Officials at each campus and a designated Veteran Coordinator, there is no shortage of veteran assistance. Our community also added veteran lounges at two of our schools: Community Care College and Oklahoma Technical College.
Why do our colleges choose to support veterans?
Community HigherEd recognizes the unique experiences veterans bring to our classrooms. If it was not for the sacrifices our armed forces and their families make, we would not be able to practice one of our core values: Honor God. Veteran students deserve everyone’s support and we are blessed as an organization to be able to help during the transition back into civilian life and beyond. We will continue to be a welcoming and supportive community for veterans.
How has this made a difference in the lives of our veteran students?
Community HigherEd has also introduced and maintained a successful Green Zone program with an 80% participation rate. Because of the Green Zone program, our facility and staff receive additional training to understand the military mindset. We cover subjects such as classroom interaction, moral/spirit injury, suicide prevention, PTSD, and more. Not only do these programs benefit our employees, but we have seen an increase in retention and graduation rates among our veterans and student body as a whole. Veterans know that we have resources available for them and will walk them through any processes or applications. These things make all the difference in the world for veterans wanting to attend one of our programs. Knowing the support we provide to our veterans, has lead to countless veteran graduates enrolling and completing two or more of our programs.
Do all three CHE campuses offer support to veterans?
Our community devotes itself to accommodating veterans at all three campuses. Earlier this year, the Community HigherEd colleges became the first Purple Heart certified technical colleges in Oklahoma. Additionally, our three colleges now have dedicated parking spots for Purple Heart recipients. Just in the year 2018, we have graduated 37 veterans from our programs. Our community annually partakes in events to assist veterans around Tulsa. Our nonprofit recently participated in Tulsa Stand Down where the students and instructors at Clary Sage College provide free haircuts. They were able to serve 97 veterans experiencing homelessness that day. Until November 15th, our campuses will be running a food drive to support the Veteran Pantry at the Coffee Bunker. It is because of initiatives like these that we are able to support veterans at every campus.
We would like to thank Leonda Clements, Senior Financial Aid Specialist and Veteran Coordinator, for answering our questions and continuing to support our student veterans.
From the desk of Jenna Luetjen, Engagement Specialist at Community HigherEd
If you’d like to learn more about our financial aid options for veterans click here!