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For information about the G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery Center for America’s Veterans, call (662) 325-6720 or firstname.lastname@example.org
• Today, Nov. 11, is the official observance of Veterans Day
• Monday, Nov. 13, is the observance day in Mississippi.
HED: Mississippi State works to create veterans center
• Looking after vets’ best interests is its goal.
By Amanda Harris
STARKVILLE – Andrew Rendon, a former Black Hawk helicopter pilot who was involved in Balkan peacekeeping duties in the late 1990s, knows how hard it is to make the transition from soldier to student.
“The environment and culture of the military is very different from the academic culture,” said Rendon. “Many soldiers have problems acclimating because they have been given a lot of authority ... in combat. They are trained to be warriors.
When they get home, they must learn to temper and control those behaviors, he observes. It’s hard to do.
Rendon said he hopes to help make that easier in his new role as director of the G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery Center for America’s Veterans (CAV) at Mississippi State University. The center officially opens its doors to current and prospective students at 10 a.m. Nov. 18 ceremony.
CAV is preparing to help soldiers find the help they need, focussing on getting the veterans back on the academic track.
“Some of the soldiers who are looking to return to school have not been in classes for four or five years,” Rendon noted. “Maybe they haven't even had a math course since high school.”
Prospective students who are a little behind academically will receive tutoring and help with achieving good standardized entrance exam scores. After the student is ready to enter the university, CAV will aid them in applying for the G.I. Bill, which promises all those who have served in the armed forces with free tuition, among other benefits.
“After we get the student into classes, we are going to stay with them and be a support network,” Rendon said. “We are interested in being the place to go if you are a veteran and looking to begin or continue a higher education.
CAV also aims to become a liaison between the student and the VA to secure benefits.
MSU student veteran William Brooks volunteers his time at CAV to help fellow veterans get what they deserve. Brooks served in Iraq in 2005 where he lost both of his legs when a buried roadside bomb detonated under his convoy vehicle. Now, he is a political science major.
“We go over to another place and risk our lives to serve our country,” Brooks said. “The least our country can do for us is make sure we get a good education when we get home.”
CAV is funded exclusively by the university, but grants and private contributions are being pursued.
Brooks says CAV will be a place where all veterans can come together as a family.
“When you take off the uniform, Navy, Army, Marines ... we are all the same,” he observed. “We are all veterans who deserve the kind of treatment that CAV will provide.”
Amanda Harris is an MSU student writing for the Daily Journal.