Located at the far corner of the Bonnell building, lies the Veteran Resource Center (VRC). This office contributes to not only the student veteran body, but all students here at the Community College of Philadelphia. Although, it may sometimes be confused with the office next door, International Student Affairs, the Veteran Resource Center is an office to visit. Though the mission here in the Community College of Philadelphia may look simple, there are many complications.(HOW is it complicated?/ Not clear) The stories of student veterans vary from one place to another, but all agree that the Veteran Resource Center has greatly helped in their transition.
There seems to be a lot of issues that student veterans tackle throughout their college years. I interviewed the VRC program coordinator Stephen Bachovin, an Air Force veteran, to find out what are some of the major difficulties about transitioning from life at war to life as a scholar.
“There is a transition phase that goes from a civilian to serviceman. You have get use to always having that supervision – the disciplined life that always told you what to do and how to do it. Then you get out, and it’s different. That presence is gone. No one is telling you to wake up early. No one is yelling at you not to be late for class.”
“When I first started out, there was no veteran center so no real guide for their education. Student Veterans have two separate bureaucracies they have to juggle; the school and the Veteran Administration office. Dealing with both alone can seriously discourage them.”
Steve Bachovin has done his best to bring in his own ideas to help the VRC succeed with transitioning from a regimented lifestyle to the open existence that college life becomes. The open existence is the lifestyle of college that gives individuals the freedom to do as they please. Many student veterans have no clue how to navigate the process, let alone even start it. Mr. Bachovin has built the office as a way to smooth out the transition while incorporating an inner community they can relate to. The motivation and morale is what a Veteran Resource Center coordinator can use to help maintain and aspire student veterans. Stephen Bachovin accomplishes this with the student body of veterans.
Mr. Bachovin expressed many of those concerns. The another complication he shared is the lack of camaraderie within the student community.
“The Veteran Resource Center is – well I don’t want to say a safe place, but it’s an environment where veterans can feel at home with others that are going through similar struggles. Not to belittle the average college students,[but] the struggles are different compared to the general population. Most are over the age of 24, and have responsibilities [such as] families to support. Many have a higher sense of responsibility from their service than the average student.”
With all of these walls, Mr. Bachovin does a great job at breaking down barriers and encouraging more student veterans to succeed. Nevertheless, there are times when the Veteran Resource Center has had some bad days. Steve recalled one of those times, stating, “When I have a student come by my office and break down in front of me, it hurts. I recall my own experiences, and they come back to haunt me. The combat veteran that falls apart in my office due to something discussed in a class – is disheartening. You have the duality of the student veteran. [There are ] those who look at veterans as leaders and students, and then you have others who see us as crazy Rambo types ready to go crazy at any point. It’s a warped sense of how a student veteran is seen as.”
It’s both a fulfilling and heartbreaking experience to be a Veteran Resource Coordinator;It comes with unique struggles everyday within the student body. Stephen Bachovin in closing wanted to make two concepts very clear to all of the student body stating,