Part of nationwide Vet Center Initiative by Student Veterans of America and the Home Depot Foundation to support veteran centers on college campuses

McALLEN - Walking onto a college campus after leaving the military can be a challenging experience for student Veterans. That’s why the Home Depot Foundation and Student Veterans of America (SVA) are awarding the SVA chapter at South Texas College $10,000 for Veterans Center expansions as part of their Vet Center Initiative.

Student Veterans of America and the Home Depot Foundation teamed up in 2014 to launch the Vet Center Initiative, offering SVA chapters a chance to compete for up to $10,000 in grant money to build or renovate a veteran center. By 2015, 61 campuses earned $500,000 to build or rehabilitate veteran centers that benefit more than 30,000 student veterans. This year, STC was among 50 campus communities that were awarded grants of up to $10,000.

“These funds will be extremely useful to help our returning Veterans transition to a college setting,” said STC Associate Dean of Student Financial Services, Testing & Veterans Affairs, Mike Carranza. “Veterans need a place to interact with each other and use our Veterans Center as their designated meeting place on campus. This has been established to support all of them on their educational journey.”

The STC Office of Veterans Affairs is located on the Pecan Campus and includes additional personnel, a computer lab, study rooms and a general space where students can socialize and hold meetings for the SVA chapter.

Currently, STC employs six certified officials that assist students at the Pecan, Mid-Valley and Starr County Campuses. The certified officials are also financial aid specialists who are able to view degree plans and give special attention to ensure there is a smooth transition from military to college life. The Office of Veterans Affairs includes the Veterans Support Services and Veterans Education Benefits departments.

“This is a very proud moment for our SVA members,” said STC SVA President Jose Valencia. “We would like to thank the Home Depot Foundation and Student Veterans of America for selecting our chapter and making this all possible. This grant is going to benefit all Veterans at South Texas College and hopefully encourage more Veterans to continue their education in a welcoming and supportive environment.”