At South Puget Sound Community College (SPSCC), the Veterans Office works with students who have served in the United States Armed Forces to navigate education benefits and additional resources. Working with the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the SPSCC Foundation and other local nonprofit organizations, the SPSCC Veterans Office staff assesses each veteran’s needs individually to help access education benefits, employment resources and mental health resources to ensure academic success.
The Veterans and Military Family Resource Room is a common area on the SPSCC Olympia campus and is a first point of contact for veterans to access support programs and develop connections with fellow students. In addition, the resource room is also a place for the greater college community to learn more about the veteran experience and further support students who have served in the Armed Forces.
Logan Witt, program coordinator for the Veterans Office at SPSCC works with the VA to ensure veteran students are receiving the education benefits earned through serving in the Armed Forces. He says that when a veteran visits the Veterans Office at SPSCC, college staff will help them to create a plan to access necessary resources.
“Once we get them in here, we will actually be able to have that sit-down communication,” explains Witt. “Really get to know them and start picking apart just enough to see where they’re living, kind of see where their home life is, and see what their living situation is. Getting them the education that they need.”
Witt says there are also ways community members give to SPSCC veterans. SPSCC Foundation scholarships have been created to help veteran students pay for college. For example, to honor his memory, Jim’s loving wife, Donna Crabbe, created the Jim Crabbe Memorial Scholarship to support SPSCC students. In his military career and at the State Board for Community & Technical Colleges, Jim was believed in helping others to become their best selves. It is the hope of Jim’s scholarship to further pass on this belief, and his passions for education and military service, by supporting military students at SPSCC.
The Veteran’s Support Fund, sponsored by the staff and faculty of SPSCC, is a type of student success grant for veteran students in need of emergency funding. Witt says that veteran students are also potentially eligible for additional non-veteran specific scholarships, through the SPSCC Foundation scholarship application process.
In addition to an on-campus food pantry, tutoring and mental health counseling, the Veterans Office also refers veterans to the Lacey Veterans Services Hub, an organization that serves veterans in the greater Thurston County region. The Lacey Veterans Services Hub can help veterans to navigate VA healthcare benefits, housing support and mental health resources.
The SPSCC Foundation also supports community events hosted by the Veterans Office in the Veterans and Military Family Resource Room, which are open to all college students, faculty and staff.
“These community events are an opportunity for veteran and non-veteran students to get to know each other,” says Witt. “They provide an environment to help dispel the stereotype that there is one type of veteran or veteran experience.
He added that these events can not only bring fellow veterans together, but the whole college campus together. “The goal is the more people the merrier for us. If we can get staff and faculty over to us and have everyone know that we’re just normal people and we’re all here for the same reason.”