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New Veterans Program Initiative Launches at MCTC

The Minneapolis St. Paul metropolitan area is home to more than 160,000 military veterans. Within this population, 43,000 have limited income and are often unable to access military G.I. Bill education benefits for themselves or members of their families. MCTC’s Veteran’s Upward Bound Program (VUB), which closed in December of 2017 due to a loss in funding, served thousands of veterans and their families at the College during the past 47 years.

Recognizing the significant contributions of the veterans support services at the College, students, faculty and staff came together to take action. The result: the College leadership supported a one-year pilot veterans initiative that combines financial aid, enrollment and support services.

“Our veterans protect our lives, liberties and freedom through their service to our country,” said MCTC Dean of Students Becky Nordin.

“Sustaining support programming for veterans and their families at MCTC is one small way of giving back. It helps break down barriers and opens the doors to college and opportunity for our community members who served and their families.”

Support and Referral Services

New support and referral services available to veterans and their families at MCTC through the new initiative will include:

  • Financial Aid. Current and prospective students will receive one-on-one support in completing their FAFSA so they can maximize their benefits. Additionally, staff members will emphasize educating participants about the importance of financial literacy and minimizing reliance on loans in order to avoid default.
  • College Enrollment. MCTC staff will recruit veterans and their families to the college and assist them in enrolling, selecting classes and identifying campus resources tailored to their needs.
  • Support Services. Thoughtful, coordinated and well-planned activities, including FYST classes, will be tailored to increase persistence, academic skills, program completion and overall success. Staff will also ensure mental health needs are addressed and outside services are easily accessible to veterans and their families including employment, job counseling, transitional housing, financial planning and more.

Veterans Programming Increases Emotional and Mental Fortitude

“In the past two years, I’ve testified at the State House Education Committee for student life fees, increased civic engagement by hosting round table discussions with local representatives and I’ve grown more than 1,000 lbs. of produce with MCTC’s Urban Farm Collective, which was subsequently distributed to more than 500 students in need.

"I mastered my career and leadership skills and fully engaged in my community,” said Charles Karter, MCTC student senate president, who is majoring in CNC Machining, Business Management and Entrepreneurship at MCTC.

“None of these things would have been possible if I hadn’t launched my educational career in MCTC’s VUB program. VUB gave me the emotional and mental fortitude I needed to succeed at MCTC.”

Craig Asche, former director of MCTC’s VUB program, will lead the pilot initiative. He is recognized as a strong leader who knows how to create an environment in which others can grow in their own leadership skills. “I wouldn’t be a student at MCTC if not for Craig Asche and the support of VUB at the College,” said Phi Theta Kappa Honor Student Lawrence Heller who is majoring in Herbal Studies at MCTC.

“Veterans frequently suffer from emotional, psychological and physical trauma due to their service to their country. Support services like the ones at MCTC encourage veterans to step forward, build their self-worth and create new opportunities through the possibility of college.”

The College hopes to receive additional support for its new veterans programming from the Minnesota Department of Veteran Affairs Support Our Troops and Minnesota State Innovative Grants.

“Our veterans need our support and our state needs their valuable contributions to our growing workforce demands,” stated MCTC’s President Dr. Sharon Pierce who fully supported the pilot. “This important program provides critical support for our military service members. I look forward to following this program and its results over the next year.”

If you’re interested in more information about the new veterans pilot initiative and its services, please contact:

Craig Asche at the MCTC Veterans Program

Craig Asche
Veterans Coordinator at MCTC