Trying to figure out how to access education benefits from the Veterans Administration can be intimidating. Or so we veterans like to think. PC has an amazing Veterans Services team and it’s growing. I am the newest member of this team, coming in as the Veteran Navigator. My job duties consist of assisting veterans with accessing their education benefits, filing disability claims, ordering military discharges and much more.
Many of these Veterans have just received their discharge and are lost. They have left the military world and returned to the civilian world. In the military, you wrote Uncle Sam that blank check equal to the cost of your own life. A world where you’re told to go get something taken care of and you do it. To a veteran, it is a perfectly structured world.
Upon leaving, we are cast into controlled chaos, without our brothers or sisters by our sides to lean on when things get tough. The toughest thing is to fall on your face and not be able to get back up; I found that out when I first got out of the service. Then I ran into a previous Veteran Navigator and I was helped by one of my peers that shared a similar military service experience.
Peninsula College has repeatedly opened their doors to host a Veterans Navigator. The person in this position is handpicked by the college and they notify the Veterans Conservation Corps of their choice and request training.
Peninsula College Vet Club members: John Garrison, Jerrod Brown, Christopher Perchert and Terry Smith
Some projects that I have been working on recently at PC include the creation of the Veteran Services brochure, PC Challenge Coin, Veterans Day festivities and helping form the Vet Club, just to name a few.
The challenge coin holds very important meaning for active duty services members, military retirees and veterans alike. Having one shows that Peninsula College cares. This is probably the most important meaning to a Veteran than any of the other meanings. Past Veteran Navigators have planned on the creation of this coin, however funding has never been available. Fortunately, a most gracious nonprofit veteran’s organization has informed me that they will fund this project. All Vet Club members will receive a coin after we come up with the design and layout of the coin. The coins will be awarded to all Veterans who receive a Peninsula College degree, which will be presented and passed to them in the traditional military style; a hand shake and a verbal thank you for your service. Club members might receive one for the support of a Veteran effort or event, the coin is meant as a thank you; a lasting memory and one of those feel good moments in time to look back and reflect on.
Terry Smith serves as the Vet Club lead advisor, I am the co- advisor, and we have an awesome panel of officers who are working diligently to get the charter to be recognized with the ASC and hope this will happen at the beginning of winter quarter.
Club activities could include: beach cleanup, community volunteerism, and working at a college event or activity. Having active members in this club is also very helpful to keep each other in check. We, veterans, are our brother’s keeper. 22 veterans commit suicide daily in this country. That’s 8,030 veterans a year! Having purpose and looking forward to an event can keep us going.
In addition to my work at PC, I also serve as a Vet Corps member, and have also worked as a Veteran Service Officer for the past three years. The Washington Dept. of Veteran Affairs Vet Corps is funded through an AmeriCorps grant. Vet Corps members are stationed at many colleges throughout the state and help veterans achieve their higher education goals by assisting with the navigation of Washington’s higher education and training programs, as veterans adjust from military to college life.
Being a Veteran Service Officer, I have created a relationship with the veteran population within Clallam and Jefferson counties; a relationship that I cherish and work for every day. I am currently a service officer through the American Legion Post 29. I have previously been a service officer for the Fleet Reserve Association (FRA) and the Disabled American Veterans (DAV).
PC has had some great veteran navigators in the position prior to me, and I know I have some huge shoes to fill. I feel I am up to this task and have amazing support from not only the staff and faculty, but the students and community as well. I look forward to welcoming veterans and their families to PC.
Jerrod Brown moved to Port Angeles after serving five years in the US Navy as a Master at Arms at Naval Base Kitsap Bangor in Silverdale. He has been a Veteran Service Officer for three years and has filed countless disability claims on behalf of veterans, and assisted many service personnel and their families.
In his free time Jerrod enjoys hiking, shooting, hunting and spending time with his wife, Alicia and two dogs.