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PHCC brings on local veteran to aid others
Monday, September 9, 2013
Patrick Henry Community College is increasing its service to veterans by adding a grant-funded position to head recruitment efforts and student support, according to a release from the school.
Will Gibson Jr., a 12-year Air Force veteran with experience in military and private business recruitment, is the new veteran services coordinator at PHCC.
He said he has two major objectives for the position.
“I would like to increase enrollment of veterans at PHCC, and hopefully, we’ll be able to stimulate some interest to motivate those veterans out there with benefits they can use to bring them on board,” he said. “We also want to make sure we’re taking care of the veterans we already have with us. I look at it as the ‘Whole Person Concept.’ We want to take care of them academically, financially if there are means to help them, and physically, if they need that.”
Gibson said this new position is exciting and a challenge because it’s the first time PHCC has had someone just serving veterans.
“I’m excited because I see a lot of opportunity here for veterans and everyone at the institution,” he said. “You can go out and recruit and market, but the best way to drive interest is perpetuation. When you take care of people, they’ll go out there and let others know.”
Gibson has hit the ground running in his new role. He said first, he’ll work to structure services, get the word out about what PHCC can offer veterans, and streamline that process.
“We just have to start networking and getting those relationships out in the community,” he said. “Once we establish that, we’ll also have those other service entities out there clamoring to get to us. They’ll let us know when they have someone who needs assistance PHCC can offer.”
The position was funded by a Rapid Response Assistance Program for Veteran’s Employment grant issued by the Virginia Community College System. PHCC partnered with the West Piedmont Workforce Investment Board and the Virginia Employment Commission to apply for the $200,235 grant that covers his salary and the cost of the program, the release said.
According to data from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, a total of 8,137 veterans live in PHCC’s service area. By the end of the grant’s funding period on June 30, 2014, all participating organizations hope to have a 50 percent increase in the number of veterans or spouses served.
Jeff Porter, dean of student services, said this position is a great asset to PHCC and the community.
“The addition of the veteran’s specialist is an exciting opportunity for the veterans in our area in terms of expanding educational options and the needed supportive services to assist in their success,” he said. “We hope the impact to veterans in the service area will be such that the position will be institutionalized when the grant expires, provided there are available resources to do so.”
PHCC President Dr. Angeline Godwin said it’s an honor to provide veterans with point of contact at the college.
“PHCC values our veterans and we want to serve present and potential students,” she said. “We’re dedicated to help veterans be successful in whatever career they choose, and we are honored to serve those that have served this country.”
Gibson’s professional experience before coming to PHCC covers a lot of ground. During his time in the Air Force, he worked as a fuel specialist, fireman and a military recruiter. After separating from the service in 2009, he was the recruiting manager for Star Tek Inc. and eventually moved to the Social Security Administration and U.S. Postal Service.
The PHCC Veterans Office will serve as a one-stop center for veterans to receive advising services, possible employment opportunities, assistance with educational benefits, and it will serve as a liaison between PHCC and outside organizations.
Gibson can be reached at 656-5465 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.