CNM Veterans Resource Center to Become Model for Rural Veterans Grant Program

June 7, 2017 -- The Rural Veterans Coordination Pilot grant program, operated through the Veterans Health Administration Office of Rural Health, has rated CNM’s Veterans Resource Center (VRC) as excellent for its size and breadth of service. The organization is going to use the center as a national model for two-year colleges across the nation.
CNM Veterans Resource Center to Become Model for Rural Veterans Grant Program

Jun 07, 2017

“When they spoke to me, they indicated they had not seen a VRC this well run in all of their site visits,” said CNM Dean of Students Rudy Garcia. “The evaluators remarked that CNM and our veterans should be proud to have a center of this magnitude here at the college.”

Staffed on a daily basis by Vietnam-era veteran David Walker, the VRC has developed partnerships within the community to assist student veterans’ needs, which has helped the VRC serve veterans in a more holistic manner and gain the attention of the Rural Veterans Coordination Pilot program. The RVCP grant program aims to better serve veterans in rural and underserved areas in New Mexico, Louisiana, Maine, Nebraska and Washington.

“One of our first activities (with the RVCP) was to visit all CNM campuses, rotating on a weekly basis," Walker said. "We tell vets about how the VRC is available to connect them with healthcare, transportation, housing, disability benefits, mental health services, emergency food pantry services and locating other outside resources.”

CNM has between 3,700 and 3,800 self-identified veteran students, the most in the state. In 2016, the VRC had over 4,000 unique visits from vets seeking assistance. More are expected in 2017.

Some of the in-house services veteran students routinely receive from the VRC include assistance in registering for classes, setting up appointments with academic advisors and learning about scholarship opportunities -- support that extends all the way through graduation. Veterans are graduating with an 80 percent completion rate.

About a year ago, the VRC moved into a new space in the Student Services Center (SSC 207). The space is utilized by veterans at CNM and community partners. The community partners like Goodwill, Veterans Affairs Hospital, Rural Veterans Coordination Pilot program, Taos Upward Bound, New Mexico Child Advocacy Network (NMCAN) and others are vital to helping veterans be successful.

Walker makes routine phone calls to CNM partners to make sure the veterans are receiving the services they need.

The veterans come to CNM and the VRC from a variety of backgrounds. Some may need remedial education before taking college-level courses; others may just need help navigating the educational system. Whatever their need, the VRC is there to help them through every phase of the process at CNM.

“If the student vets don’t have their basic needs met, they won’t be successful in school,” Walker said. “We do our best to help the veterans transition from military to civilian life. No other school in New Mexico offers the services to veterans that we do at CNM.”

For more information about the VRC, call 224-4000 ext. 20456.