College program helping veterans transition to life on campus

Transitioning from life on the battlefield to life on campus can be tough for veterans and active duty military.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Transitioning from life on the battlefield to life on campus can be tough for veterans and active duty military.

While they get financial assistance through the Post-9/11 GI Bill, signing up to receive the benefits can be a task on its own.

"When you're in the military, you have a system that kind of helps you with all of your administrative stuff," said FSCJ student John Hollingsworth.

Hollingsworth is a U.S. Marine who worked as a motor transport mechanic during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. He was in the service for eight years until he decided to pursue his education at FSCJ.

"When you get out, you're kind of overwhelmed with the forms and stuff you need to do to get your educational benefits started," he said.

That's where VetSuccess Americorp, managed by Communities in Schools, comes into play. Hollingsworth started volunteering at the South Campus VetSuccess center after seeing signs about it on campus. He loves the chance to plug in veterans with the resources the program has to offer.

"It's just a place for them to socialize, network; they can utilize our resources. We have free printing and any information that they need. We kind of act as their advocate," he said.

A few months ago, Ryan Mitnick enrolled at FSCJ to pursue his bachelor's degree in nursing. He served four years in the Marine Corps as a radio operator before he realized he wanted to go to school and get a degree.

He became involved with VetSucess after seeing advertisements on his way to class.

"They really helped me set up my services, helped me get my paperwork processed so I could start receiving services and getting my tuition paid for, along with receiving other benefits that come along with the post 911 GI Bill," Mitnick said.

The services are free to veterans, active duty military and their eligible family members.

"Having a support network and stuff when you get back is really important," Hollingsworth said.

Click here to learn more about VetSuccess and how you can get involved.


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