Local schools aim to assist military

By Argen Duncan: Cannon Connections

Balancing many responsibilities, immature classmates, a lack of structure.

All these challenges, and maybe more, face military personnel and their spouses entering college after or during their time of service. However, both Eastern New Mexico University and Clovis Community College offer help for dealing with these situations.

Eastern New Mexico University
“We meet each individual student where they’re at and serve them how they need to be served,” said Susan Larsen, ENMU director of Counseling and Career Services.

Larsen’s husband is retired from the military, and her son and son-in-law are on active duty.

People who have been in the military have an advantage the traditional student doesn’t, she said. Larsen said they have more life experience, better problem-solving skills and more independence and discipline that allow them to navigate the university system more easily.

However, lack of structure, immature behavior of classmates and memories of combat may trouble veterans and active-duty personnel. Spouses must deal with long separations, acting as a single parent for months and readjusting upon their partner’s return.

Larsen said counseling is available at ENMU for military personnel and any of their family members who are enrolled. Besides personal counseling, ENMU employees also can help students decide what career to pursue and handle transcripts with classes from many universities.

In addition, ENMU tutoring coordinator Esthela Banuelos is working to establish an organization to represent veterans and other non-traditional students on campus, as well as support groups specially for service members and their spouses.

“The great thing about the support groups is they’re not going to be fixed,” she said.

The groups can take on whatever profile students need at the time.

Orientations and the non-traditional student’s office provide information about the resources available. Also, online classes offer a chance to continue education after a permanent change of station.
Clovis Community College

At Clovis Community College, John Hansen of Recruitment and Retention said the school has a representative who handles Veterans Administration benefits, and an office at Cannon Air Force Base.
That office, in the base Education Building, offers textbooks for sale and a place to sign up for classes and take care of other such matters.

Military spouses can receive scholarships to CCC through MlitaryOneSource.com for “portable education,” Hansen said. They can access their classes online if they move, and the credits transfer to other institutions well, he said.
Clovis Community College also has a licensed counselor and a career service counselor to help with personal or career issues.

Up front advice
“Set the goals and go after what you want,” Larsen advises military personnel and their spouses pursuing degrees.

Know what resources are available and use them, she continued. Also, balancing home life, school and military requirements is important, Larsen said.
Banuelos said military personnel, veterans and their spouses are more mature than most college students.

“They have to be patient with other students because of the different backgrounds,” she said.

Also, Banuelos said a support system, on campus or off, is necessary for transitions, and students should keep an open channel of communication with professors so the professors can work with their particular needs.

Banuelos also said students with military connections need to be patient in dealing with the less-structured atmosphere.

“They adjust well, but they need to be patient,” she said.

Fast facts
Student Service Contacts:

• Non-traditional students office: 562-2434 or enmu.nts@enmu.edu
• CCC Veterans Service Coordinator James Smith: 769-4064 or james.smith@clovis.edu