Veterans Resource Center: Saluting Student Service

A group of student veterans studies and collaborates in the Veterans Resource Center computer lab.
Jared Libby

Our community has remarkable students who want to achieve something better for themselves here at TMCC, and brainstorming ways for them to conquer their goals and then implementing those strategies is what educators and administrators stand for. Thankfully and graciously, the Veterans Resource Center (VRC) understands that student veterans' lives are complicated, bringing a solution to the table to remedy some of their burdens. With exciting developments ahead for their offices and a limited-time initiative for ridesharing, Lyft for Vets, those restrictive barriers are falling to ensure that reaching their destination in life becomes easy!

If We Only Had a Ride

Getting from one place to another is not cheap nowadays. Gas and ridesharing service costs are increasingly expensive, but time is another cost we take too often for granted. Transportation is seemingly more elusive, and the stress of needing to be somewhere can cloud our minds with worry. Within those moments, relief escapes us, and responsibilities for the day become out of reach.

Transit has forever changed how we prepare for daily tasks and obligations. In larger cities, the subways and rail systems are what many people find to be the simplest means of travel, with schedules that align with their own. But what about in a smaller area? Having a vehicle makes all the difference in a more condensed region. With a running, fully-functioning car, you can cruise swiftly and smoothly to wherever your journey takes you, but not everyone has that privilege. Yet there are many deserving of the freedom that mobility provides.

Nobody should have to stress about acquiring their groceries for their family or themselves on any given day of the week. That is why, for a limited time, the VRC offers free Lyft codes to current student veterans in Reno and Sparks so they can obtain the essentials for their loved ones or individually without the anxiety of figuring out how to get to and from. But the program affords so much more than just gathering your local produce, encouraging you to take advantage of free rides for your education and mental health.

Alixe Bunyard studies pre-nursing at TMCC and is also a former Navy officer, recognizing how paramount transportation is in maintaining productive college experiences and equipping yourself with the best favorable outcome in and out of the classrooms where instruction is fundamental to your learning.

“Transportation is huge. You will not be very successful if you cannot get to class. Somebody once told me there are three keys to success in college. Attend your courses. Read the materials. And complete your homework. If you cannot do any of those things, it will hinder your capacity to be effective in the classroom,” said Bunyard.

From a patient care perspective, arriving at doctor and therapy appointments is essential for the growth and healing it can lend to your life. Many veterans are fighting an internal battle within themselves, suppressing their pain when they do not have to suffer through it alone. The VRC has always been a place among fellow service members and staff who care for you and want to see you strive for your goals, academically or professionally, discovering the happiness that comes as a reward for personal success. The little victories make each day worth celebrating who you are and how far you’ve come.

Being nontraditional learners, many attend college in committed relationships or have families with children already. They have mouths to feed and care for, with partners who lean on them for support. These morale boosters are the invincible fabric sewn into their hearts and minds when they come home from foreign or domestic combat zones or training facilities and leave their bulletproof vests and Kevlar helmets behind.

The stress that military service generates will hopefully not seem so harrowing anymore. Perhaps a sweet and deserving respite will wash over you and bestow a newfound appreciation for your surroundings. Get out there, explore, make memories, and watch the sunrise! The past is in the past, where it belongs. Life's journey is where we uncover our best selves, chasing that version while the destination remains patiently waiting, each step increasing with more meaning than the last.

Visit your friends and family with these free rides, too. Or any person in your life who you hold dear. They're just a short trip away with this fantastic program! Being together at dinner, a movie, or even a peaceful walk through the neighborhood can have lasting, rewarding effects for you. It's a boon when the goodwill of others manifests into contributions awarded like these, enhancing the everyday lives of student veterans.

“Get out there and use it, please! You’re doing yourself a disservice by not taking advantage of this resource. There’s so much out there for students! In addition to this Lyft program, we also have the VRC and computer lab. These spaces are designed for you and are very veteran-friendly. Sometimes veterans hesitate to re-engage with others like them, but we are not that scary! We are nice people, fun, and pretty relaxed,” said Bunyard.

With Lasting Gratitude for the Future

More outstanding news from the VRC includes a charitable grant of $300,000 from the Nevada Military Support Alliance for renovations and extra space where student veterans can study, write reports, and utilize computers to engage with their online educational resources for whatever subject they may be involved in. The staff is excited about this significant expansion, promoting awareness of their offices' services and continuing their tremendous efforts for this only six percent demographic at TMCC!

Felipe Gutierrez De Alba, Veterans Program Coordinator, explains the many active services available to new and prospective student veterans pursuing higher education but unsure where or how to begin, offering academic advice to those in disorienting situations.

“We’re closing in on our tenth anniversary since the VRC opened its doors, and a major remodel will free the area up nicely, and we’ll put in some new tech and furniture for students. We’re giving it a facelift, more or less,” said Gutierrez.

“We’re thrilled to continue our mentorship and leadership academy programs. Nevada Military Support Alliance considerately funds those, and this is all money that goes back into student pockets. Most people think the G.I. Bill covers all our college expenses, but it doesn’t. Student veterans do struggle. We all know how inflation has been and how everything is so expensive right now,” said Gutierrez.

The VRC removes educational and personal barriers to establish access to whatever unfortunate circumstance someone may be in. Walking a mile in someone else’s shoes genuinely leads to acting with compassion. Their team is powerfully changing the lives of student veterans one bootlace at a time!

For more information, please visit the Veterans Resource Center website or call 775-337-5612.