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Del Mar College's Veterans Upward Bound helps with the transition from military to civilian life

For many of our nation's younger veterans, there has often been a gap in the transition back to civilian life. Call it a missing link.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Following World War II, our country educated millions of returning veterans – including future U.S. Presidents, Supreme Court Justices, and a host of Nobel and Pulitzer prize winners. 

For many of our nation's younger veterans, however, there has often been a gap in the transition back to civilian life. Call it a missing link.

For those who once proudly served our country in uniform, clear advice on managing the next phase of their education once they return home can be hard to come by. Unless, of course, they are in the Coastal Bend.

Veterans Upward Bound is a program offered by Del Mar College. Coordinator Cindy Soliz said, "What we are here to do is to help veterans who want to go back to school. We help them with the process, and our primary goal is to get them enrolled in and complete a post-secondary education."

The service is free, and it is not just for those who want to attend Del Mar.

"Once they decide which school they want to go to, we can help with the entire process," says Soliz. "We do the leg work. We'll reach out to the school and find out what the process is to get in there, and then we'll assist the veteran."

Tony DeLeon is a U.S. Army veteran who joined the military immediately after high school and served overseas. For him, this program came along at just the right time.

"So, with this COVID stuff going on, I got laid-off, and it gave me some time to look into other things, like school."

DeLeon says that VUB delivered on its promise. "They did a fantastic job of getting me enrolled, virtually stress-free."

Help with testing and admissions fees, VA benefits paperwork, a book loaner program, and even a workshop on Zoom 101, have all made the move toward the next phase of his life, an easier one.

"This year's been up and down," says DeLeon, "and I feel now that I've got these benefits to help me through school, I feel I can get a better jump on my career and have my diploma and just further my education in general."

The VUB office is housed in the Harvin Student Center on Del Mar College's East Campus at Baldwin and Ayers.

On Friday, they will be giving away backpacks filled with school supplies and information on resources for veterans to those who sign-up for the program. It is a drive-up service and is happening from 8 a.m. to noon.

For additional information on what it takes to qualify for the program, call or text (361) 857-4390. You may also email vub@delmar.edu or visit their Facebook page.

For the latest updates on coronavirus in the Coastal Bend, click here.

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