TMCC Receives Federal Grant for Veterans

K. Patricia Bouweraerts
Robert Hernandez and Veterans Image

VUB Director Robert Hernandez welcomes veterans and veteran service providers attending an information sharing and networking event at the VUB office.

“Thousands of veterans exit military service each month only to find an overwhelming combination of emotional, financial, academic, and cultural obstacles,” said Robert Hernandez, Director of Veterans Upward Bound.

Veterans Upward Bound (VUB) is a program at Truckee Meadows Community College that inspires and supports veterans to strive for a college education.

In September, the U.S Department of Education, Federal TRIO Programs awarded a grant to the Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) to continue TMCC’s VUB program. The grant amount is close to $390,000; for a total of $1.9 million across the five-year grant period.

It is the only Veterans Upward Bound Program in Nevada and one of only thirty-nine in the country. The TMCC VUB program service area includes eight counties in Northern Nevada.

It’s a pre-college program, meaning that the VUB staff assist military veterans with their planning and preparation to enroll in higher education, and to successfully achieve a certificate or degree. The VUB center provides a centralized location for academic instruction and tutoring, advisement, enrollment assistance, help with submitting GI educational benefits forms, career exploration and planning, and referrals to other veterans resources.

All services are free and tailor-made to benefit an individual's learning and support needs, and on the educational goals of the veteran.

Along with classroom instruction, other learning options are available including online streaming videos, and distance education. VUB offers placement test preparation and guidance about what college life will be like.

“The primary goal of the program is to increase the rate at which participants enroll in and complete postsecondary education programs—to help more veterans successfully earn a degree and enhance their quality of life,” Hernandez said.

The Need Is Great

“Eligible participants number more than 43,000 veterans in Northern Nevada with less than a bachelor’s degree, a poverty rate of close to seven percent, unemployment rate of more than 10 percent, and a disabled rate of almost 28 percent,” Hernandez added.

More veterans are now enrolling in college, but many need help with the transition because military structure is vastly different from the independent and unstructured day-to-day life of a student on campus. Additionally, many veterans have taken a break from their studies while in the service and need to brush-up basic English and math skills, and receive information and assistance with the college enrollment process.

“It had been 14 years since high school, so I knew I had to just start with baby steps,” said Cirila Santillano, a U.S. Army veteran.

Reden Guerrero, also a U.S. Army veteran, agrees.

“I am intimidated with math,” he said. “That was the biggest obstacle in where I needed to go, but I couldn’t get there.”

While attending VUB, he learned to better manage his math anxiety.

“Veterans Upward Bound definitely gave me all the information that I needed,” he said. “They pretty much laid it out for me, what I needed to do, so they made it easy for me.”

VUB’s main office includes a Veterans Learning Commons with a computer lab, career information, tutoring and support resources, guest speakers and on-site veteran service providers, an art gallery, coffee lounge, and study areas; all at TMCC’s Meadowood Center. A satellite location is offered at Western Nevada College (WNC) in Carson City, Nevada. The program has been serving veterans for 28 years.

Hernandez is excited about new possibilities in the coming years—seeing the veterans achieve their goals and returning to shake his hand. Program participants recommend it highly, as well.

“And they understand, you know, what you’re going to be going through, so it prepares you mentally and emotionally, and just like a family, like you had with the military,” Santillano added.

For more information about Veterans Upward Bound, please contact the VUB office at 775-829-9007.