By: Scott M. Roberts
CNM to offer veterans services
The CNM Veteran’s Administration department is creating a veteran’s representative position in the disability resource center to assist students who have served in the military, said Ian Scott a veteran administration tech III for financial aid and scholarship services.
There are 957 students currently enrolled at CNM who use certified veteran benefits to assist with education and funding, and at least 100 students who would immediately benefit from the on-campus location, said Scott.
Dean of Students Dr. Rudy Garcia said he has been heading up this project to get a Veterans Affairs representative on main campus.
The Vet Success Office counselor would be assigned from the VA offices located in Albuquerque to give student veterans on-the-spot assistance, said Garcia.
Fine Arts major and Air Force veteran Terry Sexe said he is pleased by the upcoming position at main campus and he feels he and others will benefit.
“I ride a bike, and having a rep here would be a lot easier than going all the way downtown,” said Sexe.
Sexe said he is in his fifth term at CNM and that he has had issues in the past with the VA over his major of fine arts.
“I’m the first person, through vocational rehab, to be approved for a fine arts degree,” said Sexe.
Sexe said that having a VA representative would be especially for the questions the advisors cannot answer. The veteran administration techs on campus usually have to call the VA office downtown to get answers or approvals, said Sexe.
“The normal government philosophy is ‘If it’s not broke, fix it until it is’,” said Sexe.
Sexe said the approval for his change of major to fine arts was permitted two days before the end of winter break, which meant a trip downtown to get it finalized. He then went to main campus to enroll for the spring 2012 term, but by the time he got to campus no one was there, he said.
Business major Victor Mendoza is a work study employee in the veteran’s administrations department who said he looks forward to the new counselor in the disability resource center.
Mendoza said the VA has specific qualification requirements that don’t necessarily affect students as a general rule, but having someone knowledgeable in those requirements would help a great deal in assisting students who receive or want to receive financial benefits.
The VA counselor will also assist veterans to make sure they are being correctly advised on what classes they need to take, and how the VA process works in conjunction with the school process, said Mendoza.
Mendoza said he has seen a VA counselor to get direction and assistance for his own schooling, and that there are various chapters of VA services that assist with specific benefits that all have different guidelines and requirements.
After the position for the VA representative is established on campus, office information will be available.