Clackamas Community College: one of nation’s best two-year schools for veterans

Veteran Resource Center-2 Veteran Resource Center-1 Veteran Resource Center
The Veterans Resource Community Center, Room 100. Photos by Grant Pauli

The Veterans Education and Training Center (VET) on the Oregon City Clackamas Community College campus is located in the Wacheno Welcome Center, Room 170. Within the center, veterans are able to find a community and help with different things. Some of the many benefits include VA educational benefit enrollment, certification, assistance, helping veterans understand their benefits, financial support and more. 

Ally Brake is a student and veteran who works in the VET. “The main thing the center is for is to help people use their benefits to be able to go to college,” Brake said. “It also helps them in their educational journey and supports them, whether it’s how to use your benefits, (or) extra resources for free printing in the computer lab. We are also a great support network.”

“Every Thursday we do pizza and then we started a veterans club. So we have an actual club with events happening…Just walk into the vet center and let it be known or send an email to anyone in the vet center and we can direct them from there,” said Brake. This club and honor society is called Student Veterans of America club and honor society, which can be a great way for veterans to get involved. 

Community is an incredible outlet for veterans who may be learning how to use their benefits and transition to school from service for the first time. 

“When I first entered the VET, I was in the midst of retiring from the military after 21 years,” said Mac McLaren, a first time college student and retired Navy Chief Petty Officer. “Being able to connect with other veterans who have already been down this road, being able to discuss the differences in some of the benefits from their first hand perspectives is a great help for me. It can be very confusing and overwhelming, almost so much that I believe it discourages a lot of veterans from even utilizing them,” McLaren shared with The Clackamas Print. 

“The Resource Center in itself isn’t necessarily the provider of these resources, but it’s definitely a great start to connect those Veterans who are unaware of resources that may be available to them or that they may qualify for,” McLaren said. 

While Veterans who use the center seem to be in agreement that it’s helpful, there are a number of Veterans who are unaware of its existence. “I am not too familiar with all the services provided,” said Alexander Peters, a new student and veteran, who declined to share details about his service. “But anytime I’ve needed help they’ve been reliable and competent, I think Veterans Affair Coordinator RB Green (Army Veteran) is an amazing person for that office.” 

McLaren also said it can be “very confusing and overwhelming, almost so much that I believe it discourages a lot of Veterans from even utilizing them.”

Green, who is the Veterans Affair Coordinator, was unavailable for comment. There was tremendous gratitude poured his way for his assistance in the center. 

“It’s a great asset to have available, but like most things in life, it’s only useful if it’s getting used. With the help Ally and a few other members of the Student Veteran Association (SVA) are working to reinvigorate the center as well as do their best to bring awareness to the 200+ student veterans who may be eligible for some of the resources that are available.” McLaren said. 

Clackamas Community College was ranked 6th “Best for Vets” two year school in 2019, according to Military Times. With the different services provided, students involved in the Veteran Center are able to get the benefits and help they need. 

A veteran student support group is going to be meeting in AC2-176, Wednesdays from 2:00-3:00 p.m., starting on Feb. 15. 

“To assist our Veterans and their family members in gaining access to valuable VA educational (and other) benefits while providing all types of transition assistance” is the mission statement of the Veterans Resource Center (McClaren concluded). The more who know about the center and all it offers, the more who can benefit from it.

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Callie Valente