Northeast Veteran Training & Rehabilitation Center | Connecting Point: Veterans Coming Home


Veterans Coming Home is made possible by the
Corporation for Public Broadcasting and by Pride Stores.Gardner is the Northeast Veteran
Training and Rehabilitation Center and we refer to it as the NVTRC. The main requirement
to be part of our little community is that you are an Iraq or Afghanistan Veteran, and
that you want to move forward, get your life together, and be successful as a civilian.
The other requirement is that you have to go to school if you’re able. Military veterans
typically have a different type of skill set. You know we have a mission and we’re driven
by a mission. So everything we try to do is to get it complete or get it done as fast
as possible. Um, in school it’s kind of paced. So everything is is set out and you have kind
of an easy going pace to get it done, and it was difficult to overcome that for me because
I would get assignments and I wanted to do them then. I wanted to get it done as quickly
as possible, and I wanted to be…I wanted to move on to the next thing. The veteran
is also usually experiencing a cultural shift. Um, and that is as they’re coming from a military
culture to which is more regimented, and much an interdependent culture, as opposed to a
college which is far less regimented and some might consider it just chaotic, uh and um
the uh but it’s also and independent culture. They uh you know everyone is expected to act
upon their own uh initiative and they are responsible for their own actions, unlike
the military, which is very you know how everyone else response is very important.And certainly
at the very least a mission may not be accomplished if someone doesn’t do his or her job. To help
an educator adjust to having veterans in their classroom is actually not a large task at
all. Most of our instructors actually find veterans to be a joy in the classroom because
they have inherent leadership capabilities, they’re more mature, and um they have more
focused. Mount Wachusett Community College is a great community. I mean not just for
the community in general but for the veteran community. They refer to us, we refer to them,
it’s a user friendly school. I mean it just really works. When I went to the Mount Wachusetts
Community college it was smaller classes, more local people, um it was an older average
of student. Things were a lot easier, my professors were understanding, they were up to date they.
when you introduced yourself they always had you introduce yourself to the class, I always
talked about the fact that I was a veteran, I was in the military, and that I did serve,
and that I was proud of what I did. So it was different. When I went to UMass Amherst,
I mean, there were huge classes, um, I struggled there because of my disabilities because…you
know you’re in a class of 350, I mean, it’s hard to deal with some of my issues. Um, when
you feel closed in and confined. And school’s an out for everybody, let;s face it if some
people don’t like school, they don’t like the studying, they don’t like the homework,
that’s OK as long as you’re doing what you need to do to integrate back into the culture.
And a lot of these kids haven’t, they’ve gone from home to military, somebody’s taking care
of them, or made sure that they had food on the table and that their bills are paid. Well
now it’s time to help them step up and say, OK, I need help with a budget so we’ll have
somebody come in and help them with a budget. Or they may need extra help with school, with
their going to school and we can have tutors come in and do that as well. But it’s about
moving forward and being able to become a functioning part of the community, that maybe
they would not have been able to before. Not being able to go to the school, I’ve been
able to educate myself in many other ways from them as well. It’s not just, I’m here
I go to school, and that’s it I’m a single entity, no, I’m here the other soldiers are
here, we branch together, we talk together, we learn from each other, wether it’s a schooling
thing that I may not..cause I still try to educate myself on the side. They’ll still
be you know God, thanking them, they’re in a higher position that they were able to go
to the school, and take advantage of it and we all help each other out. So yeah, in a
sense you educate yourself as well, but with the schooling as well. This is what normality
should look like and feel like. You know, people helping you and ah not looking at you
when you’re different. You know, that’s the biggest thing is um, you seem to look different
in everybody’s eyes. You know you forget that people haven’t changed, we’ve changed. I still
I’m proud of myself. Um, like I said, I still have issues, so…some days it’s difficult,
some days it’s not. Um, I’m glad I had the chance that I could get that education. And
uh, that I had the change to be here at the NVTRC, and to excel. And like I said, without
the post-911 it wouldn’t have happened. I wouldn’t be able to have this. If we didn’t
have you know, those veteran services, it might have been a different story. Veterans
Coming Home is made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and by Pride Stores.
WGBYis proud to partner with the VA Central Western Massachusetts, Soldier On, and the
Bilingual Veterans Outreach Centers of Massachusetts to support veterans in the successful transition
to civilian life. Information at wgby.veterancominghome.org.

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