Vets help vets move careers forward

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Vets are helping vets pursue college degrees and technical training through a program at the University of New Mexico-Taos. They are looking for more participants.

Veterans Upward Bound at UNM-Taos is an assistance program set up to help New Mexican vets achieve their goals of upper-level education and start new careers. The initiative has been helping veterans in Santa Fe, Rio Arriba, Taos, San Miguel and Colfax counties for the past five years to become students.

Covering a wide variety of services, the Upward Bound office is dedicated to helping veterans take the next step in life after the military.

“A lot of vets don’t know we exist,” said program coordinator Tanya Badger. “If they do know about us, they don’t think this applies to them.”

VUB is set up to assist lower income vets who are first-generation college hopefuls with at least 180 days of active duty in any branch of the U.S. military. Though the qualifications may seem to limit participation, Badger said the program will work with any situation to find the best fit for those in need.

Funded through the U.S. Department of Education, Veterans Upward Bound offers a number of services, including helping first-time students navigate through the application process for universities or trade schools.

The department also offers tutoring services and help for vets who might need an extra hand at any age or stage in school. Badger said candidates have entered the program and earned several degrees and certifications through their time with the office.

“We help with anything that would help a veteran become a student,” Badger said.

With only 63 students currently using the program, Badger said bringing in new students can often be a challenge as many veterans don’t believe they qualify or are entitled to assistance programs. Badger said many have a mentality that they have to deal with adversity rather than to ask for help.

She said there is absolutely no shame in calling the office for assistance. “We can help them continue to move forward,” Badger said.

Veterans Upward Bound serves veterans in Northern New Mexico counties but can also serve those in other areas if they are referred. According to Badger, even vets who have not yet earned their high school diploma can receive assistance before they enroll in a college or trade school.

The organization is run by vets, for veterans and can answer most questions potential students might have. Services are free to those seeking help in earning a college degree or certification.

For more information, contact Veterans Upward Bound at (575) 737-3725.

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