After United States military personnel return home after serving overseas, their transition back to civilian life isn’t always smooth.
A new Veterans Service Center has opened on the main campus at 199 Chambers Street, and according to President Antonio Pérez, “this Center helps student veterans navigate the complexities of enrollment and registration, informing them of education-related veterans benefits and helping them deal with any issues they may face, whether those issues are academic, administrative, vocational, or psychological.”
The new coordinator
Wilfred Cotto is BMCC’s Veterans Services Coordinator, who previously served as the Director of Veterans’ Affairs at City University of New York (CUNY).
During his tenure at CUNY, student veteran enrollment increased by 55%; gaining CUNY recognition as a “veteran-friendly” university.
Cotto, a native New Yorker, served on active duty in the U. S. Navy from July 1977 to September 2005.
According to BMCC’s Office of Institutional Research & Assessment, approximately 370 veterans currently attend BMCC.
“Of the CUNY schools, BMCC has the second highest enrollment of student veterans,” says Cotto.
Criminal Justice major Daryl Griffin is working at the Veterans Services Center this semester.
A veteran himself who served in the U.S. Navy, Griffin understands the adjustments veterans have to make—both mentally and physically—when pursuing an academic path.
“BMCC was a great place for me to enroll when coming out of the military,” he says. “My particular major allows me to transition into John Jay College next semester.”
He adds that: “Student veterans should know that we’re here for them and can help them with any bumps they encounter on their path towards education.”
Adds Griffin, who hopes to work for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security: “BMCC re-introduced me to a formal education. You should have seen me in high school—I just did not have the grades or stamina, and at BMCC I have a 3.9 GPA.”
Through PROVE, the CUNY-wide Project for Return and Opportunity in Veterans Education, two interns from the Hunter College Silberman School of Social Work, will also be available to offer counseling services to veterans at BMCC.
Help for veterans and families
“I want student veterans to know they have a Support Team here at BMCC, a point person in offices such as Advisement and the Bursar who can advise them during their time at BMCC,” says Cotto. “We also have an on-campus Veterans Club.”
He adds: “Additionally, the Veterans Service Center can provide information on benefits, scholarships, the VA, disability compensation and more, for veterans and their families.”
Note: The Veterans Service Center is located in Room S115C on the first floor of 199 Chambers Street, by the BMCC/Tribeca Performing Arts Center (TPAC) offices.