San Jacinto College program helps military veteran students with transition back to civilian life

The new program is proving to be a significant aid to local military veterans trying to transition back to civilian life
January 4, 2014 8:30:55 PM PST
San Jacinto College has a new program that is proving to be a significant aid to military veterans trying to transition back to civilian life.

Alexander Reyes was a U.S. Army infantryman on patrol in Baghdad in 2007 when he was severely wounded by an improvised explosive device.

"My injuries now prevent me from doing many things," Reyes said. "I can no longer serve."

Years later, Reyes is still trying to fit back in to civilian life. He is like so many veterans, trying to move past the physical and emotional tolls of war.

"They want to move forward with their lives," Reyes said.

Reyes and others, though, are doing that with the help of San Jacinto College.

The school received a $400,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education in 2010 and used that -- plus other donations -- to create Veterans Success Centers on each of its three campuses.

"They have the desire to go to school, but they don't know where to start," Eugene Bernard with San Jac said.

Veteran Success Centers are one-stop shops where veteran students can get resources from educational and VA benefit information to outside resource referrals.

School officials say they worked with more than 1,300 vets from January through Veterans Day this year.

"A lot of our students have the desire to come back to school," Bernard said. "They have the goal in mind, but they just don't know how to get there."

Vets like Reyes say the support from San Jac helped him realize that he is not alone. He figures he would have dropped out without it, and he says it's the camaraderie and positivity of his peers, who have had their own struggles since returning from service, that make all the difference.

"It works," Reyes said. "It's a success."

Now, Reyes wants to pay back that success. He's planning to get his degree so he can one day be a counselor to other vets returning home.

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