When Air Force Reservist Jon Walters enrolled at McHenry County College in 2011 to pursue criminal justice degree after serving three tours in the Middle East, he joined the college's student veterans group who helped him through a maze of paperwork to obtain his funding for college.
As the new liaison for the MCC Student Veterans Resource Center, Walters wants to help other veterans transitioning into civilian life and returning to college. He replaces Steve Czarnecki who left to complete a fire science internship.
"I want to continue the mission of the center, which is to serve as an educational hub for McHenry County veterans," Walters said.
The center provides outreach to veterans of all ages who are enrolled in classes at MCC. So far, 234 veterans are enrolled for the upcoming fall semester.
"We want to be open for veterans and connect them to services such as how to register for classes or provide them with resources for housing and employment," Walters said. "Hopefully, we can identify more of their needs and find solutions for them."
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, more than 850,000 troops have returned to civilian life since mid-2009. MCC is designated as a military-friendly college for 2014 by GI Jobs magazine, which honors the top colleges, universities and trade schools that are doing the most to embrace America’s veterans as students.
This summer, Walters participates in a college-wide task force to determine veterans' educational needs and to create a long-term plan for the center. He also is involved in several countywide events for veterans, where he talks to vets about the SVRC. He already recruited five veterans to sign up for classes at MCC while he met with them at the Transitional Living Services office in McHenry, where he works as a peer support specialist.
Open since last November, the SVRC helps students with class registration, scholarship applications, academic advising and connects veterans to career training, networking and to Post Traumatic Stress (PTS) counseling.
"In the last six months, we provided greater advocacy for veterans and connected several veterans to resources, both on-campus and in the community," Walter said.
In addition to his VA-funded liaison position, he also is completing requirements for a Criminal Justice AAS degree and plans to graduate next December. He also works as a peer support specialist at the Lake-McHenry Veterans and Family Services. He plans to pursue a career in social work aspect of law enforcement.
While in the Air Force Reserves, Walters worked in security forces, providing security and protection for top military officials, including a four-star general who visited Iraq and Afghanistan.
For more information about the Student Veterans Resource Center, contact Jon Walters at (815) 479-7543 or Don Curfman at (815) 455-8731 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.