BY Monika Garza | THE RIDER
UTRGV offers programs and services to help its more than 1,000 veterans transition to a university environment.
Martin Rodriguez, director of the Military and Service Success Center at UTRGV, said veterans face difficult challenges from service to college, like adapting to student life, different schedules and personal issues.
The Military and Veterans Success Center at UTRGV serves student veterans by providing counseling services for veterans, promoting student involvement and certifying educational benefits.
For the veterans’ dependents, the center offers a program called Chapter 35.
Chapter 35 offers education and training opportunities to eligible dependents of veterans who are permanently and totally disabled due to a service-related condition.
Rodriguez said there are about 1,100 veterans attending UTRGV.
“[Veterans] receive either Veterans Affairs benefits or the state-funded program called Hazlewood,” Rodriguez said.
The U.S. Veterans Affairs provides education services, life insurance and rehabilitation benefits to former servicemen and women.
The Hazlewood Act provides qualified veterans and their dependents with an educational benefit of up to 150 hours of tuition exemption at public institutions of higher education in Texas.
College is a different environment from what veterans are used to.
Freshman Esteban Alonso Ramos, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps for five years, said he is glad “UTRGV has a place where we can go to every single step with guidance.”
Mentoring is one of the many benefits student veterans receive as they pursue their higher education goals.
“The way we help veteran students to study on the Brownsville campus is that we have the Veterans Upward Bound program, which helps them academically,” Rodriguez said. “In Edinburg, we have the Learning Center.”
The Veterans Upward Bound program motivates and assists veterans through mentoring, tutoring, counseling and academic instruction in the core subject areas such as composition, literature, pre-calculus, science and foreign language.
“In the Army there is like a structure. You know what is going to happen for the rest of the time you are there and in college it’s different,” said Danny Rawls, a mathematics junior who served in the U.S. Army. “But, I found the Veterans Upward Bound program at UTRGV and I made like a ‘home’ here.”