Tuesday, November 8, 2016


What Veterans Day means to me
By James Elphick

               This year will mark the thirteenth time I have celebrated Veterans day as a veteran. A great deal has changed since but one thing has remained constant – what Veterans day means to me as a veteran.
               Due to the nature of my deployments I was considered a combat veteran at just 18 years old but I was still in the Army and not officially a veteran in the civilian world. Those first few Veterans Days were important as my friends and I collaboratively established what the day meant to us. It became many things – first and foremost at the time it was a day off from work which was much appreciated – but we all seemed to reach the same conclusions.
               Veterans day was a day to celebrate that we were alive, that we had survived the war up to that point. But it was also a time of contemplation as for many of us there were still deployments looming. That contemplation has continued through the years, especially for me. Every Veterans Day I reflect on the sacrifices of my brothers and sisters in arms and I wonder about the future. I long for a day when we are no longer creating new combat veterans but live in a world of peace and those of us who fought this war can grow old and let the memories fade a little.
               The celebration of being alive to enjoy Veterans Day has also always been tempered by the loss of our comrades. Even though there is a separate holiday in Memorial Day to recognize them it is impossible to truly separate the two. No thought toward my own service can happen without also acknowledging those that we lost.

               Finally, and this one may have been the most difficult, Veterans Day is the time to let the country thank us. Many of us shrug off the obligatory “thank you for your service” that we hear whenever it becomes known that we are a veteran but for many people it is important to say those words. Because for us we are veterans everyday it is important to be able to step back and let the country celebrate its veterans, even if it makes us uncomfortable.   

Monday, November 7, 2016


What does Veterans Day mean to me?
By Carol Beard

               Growing up in a military family you’d think that I would have grown up with a deep appreciation for Veterans Day.  My father is a veteran, several of my uncles are veterans, and several of my older cousins served in the military.  So, it’s a fair guess to say that I should have really understood Veterans Day.  But, I didn’t.
               I started to understand Veterans Day when I was in high school and was learning about the history of it.  How it was originally Armistice Day and ended WWI, how it was a chance to honor those who had served and were still serving; these things I learned in school.  I also learned that I had to march in parades for band all over the region for Veterans Day.
               But, I didn’t begin to understand Veterans Day on a personal level until I had served in the military myself.  During my tenure in the Navy, Veterans Day was a very nice day off most years if I wasn’t out to sea.  However, the day didn’t mean much to me until later on.  That changed when I took the uniform off for the last time and donned the mantle of “veteran” myself.
               While Veterans Day still means time off from work, it now means more to me on a personal level than it did before.  I identify myself as a veteran and take pride in the service I gave to protecting my country.  Veterans Day has become “my day” where I can share my pride of service with others.  It is also the day that I can help others understand that those who serve come in all shapes, sizes, and colors.  Veterans Day has become to me a day of reflection on my service time and a chance to thank my brother’s and sister’s in arms for their service as well.

               Veterans Day still involves parades, though I don’t march in them anymore.  It’s still about remembrance and thanks for service rendered to the country by those, like me, who are here to accept the appreciation of a nation.   But, most importantly to me Veterans Day means a celebration of selflessness.  Veterans Day to me means that my sacrifices while I served are acknowledged and appreciated.   

Monday, September 19, 2016


The Obstacle Course Lesson
Carol Beard

What did the confidence course teach me?

Now that’s a question isn’t it?  In the Navy, the confidence course isn’t really there to train us on overcoming physical obstacles.  Most people in the Navy do not have a need to traverse forest or urban battle fields and those who do end up receiving specialized training after recruit training.  So why is it that we had to complete this obstacle course as a part of our training?

While I’m positive that the Recruit Division Commanders (RDC’s) told us something about the course, my fatigued and overwhelmed 18-year-old brain did not retain the information.  But, I remember clearly going through the confidence course.  I remember how hard it was for someone my size, I’m only 5’1” tall, to jump over and flip around and climb through the obstacles.  I also remember being yelled at by the RDC’s because I was struggling and being encouraged by my fellow recruits.  And I did make it through the course both times we had to run it.

So what did I learn?  I didn’t learn any particularly important physical skill by going through that course.  What I learned was much more important, although at 18 I’m not all that sure that the true significance was.  But now the lessons I learned show up in the sneakiest of ways.  I learned I was capable.  I was capable of getting through the physical challenge that was the obstacle course.  And more importantly, I learned I was capable of accomplishing just about anything I set my mind to.

I actually bruised my lower ribcage in the process of getting through the obstacle course.  It hurt.  I had people in authority constantly telling me to quit, to give up, that I couldn’t do it.  That hurt to.  But I learned to take that frustration, that pain, and turn it into fuel for my accomplishments.  I learned that I could persevere and overcome obstacles in life.

Throughout my ten-year Naval career, I often came back to the obstacle course lessons.  I worked hard and earned my way up to First Class Petty Officer, or E6 paygrade.  I spent two years working on my Air Warfare certification.  I used the lessons I learned way back in recruit training in perseverance to grow as a Sailor and a leader.  And then I took the lessons with me back to the civilian sector.

Sometimes the situations I was in hurt.  They hurt physically, mentally, and emotionally.  But every time, every single time that I wanted to quit I would think of that obstacle course.  The fact that I did finish, even in the face of difficulties and pain.  I’d think “well I know I can get through this too” and then I’d get the job done.  Whether the job was taking care of accommodations for my daughter’s special needs, or pursuing and earning my college degree didn’t matter.  It was the same skills and the same knowledge that I could do it.

We all have obstacle courses in life.  Some more obvious than other.  But if you think about your obstacle course and you think about the lessons it has taught you, you will find that you can do.  You will learn that you are capable.  There will be pain, there will be people trying to stop you, but you can do much more because of the experience of the obstacle course.  That’s what I learned for the obstacle courses in my life.  What have you learned from yours?

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

DO YOU HAVE THE SKILLS? Student Success Workshop

Student Success Workshop
By Carol Beard

            Learning is a skill.  Different people have different levels of the skills needed for learning.  Veterans entering college typically have at least four years since they last used their academic learning skills on a daily basis.  This time gap can lead to rusty learning skills.
           But, there are programs available to help improve those skills!  Veterans Upward Bound provides training in basic skills like note taking, test taking, and time management.  The dedicated staff also provide training in math, science, and language arts skills.  And here’s the really cool part:  IT’S TOTALLY FREE!!

            Before the start of each academic semester at Yavapai College the Veterans Upward Bound staff hold a one day workshop for all qualifying veterans who would like a quick refresher to skills that students need to be successful in college.  The workshop is free and provides a wealth of information that students consistently say they wish they’d had before they started school.  Paper writing skills, time management and organizational skills geared towards college, and much more are offered during the day long session.

            The workshop is also offered at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University’s Prescott Campus, and at Northern Arizona University’s Flagstaff Campus.  The Veterans Upward Bound program serves all of northern Arizona and we hope to see you participating in our program before you begin college so that you have the skills to succeed!

Upcoming Student Success Workshops:

Yavapai College
Wednesday 8/17/16

Embry Riddle Aeronautical University
Wednesday 8/24/16

Northern Arizona University

Friday 8/26/16

Tuesday, August 2, 2016


Does the GI Bill cover that?

By Carol Beard

I hear it all the time.  A veteran comes in to my office, fresh from their end of active duty status(or not), saying that so-and-so told them that the GI Bill won't cover this, that, or the other.  Often they are confused and sometimes mad about that supposed knowledge.  Until, that is, I correct them.

I know, I know.  The guys at TAPS or the installations college office are supposed to be the end all be all, know it all's for your transition to college.  But the thing is that those folks, though very knowledgeable, are not fully trained as School Certifying Officials and have not generally undergone the in-depth training on how the GI Bill is actually structured to work.

So, here's the real life experience of a veteran, me, who has used GI Bill benefits and who then went on to become a School Certifying Official.  The GI Bill, in most cases, can be used towards any authorized program that an institution offers.  It does not matter if that program is a transfer degree, like an Associate of Arts; an applied science degree, like Gunsmithing; or if is a simple certificate in something like bookkeeping.  What does matter is that the institution has been approved by the VA as a training site and that their programs have been reviewed and approved.

Yes, the GI Bill will pay for certificate programs.  Yes, the GI Bill will pay for degree programs.  And here's the really neat thing, the GI Bill will allow you to pursue two of these things at once.  Each school and training facility has it's own regulations regarding programs and program combinations, but there are very few exceptions to what the GI Bill will not cover at an approved institution.

Instead of asking if the GI Bill covers something, you might want to ask what the GI Bill does not cover at your school.  You might just be surprised to learn that the answer is not much of anything!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Local Resources for Veterans in Yavapai County

Local Resources for Veterans in Yavapai County
By James Elphick

            Navigating the post-service world and the higher education system can be tricky, if not downright difficult. Luckily there are numerous resources for veterans to help them with this journey.
  1. Veterans Upward Bound
    • First and foremost there is our program, Veterans Upward Bound, which is a pre-college program designed to prepare veterans to be successful through the rigors of college. The program provides refresher courses in core academic components to ensure veterans are entering school at the college level. There are workshops and classes relating to necessary college skills, i.e. note-taking, test-taking, college-level paper writing, etc. as well as academic and career advising. Finally, Veterans Upward Bound will help veterans locate and utilize all available resources, particularly their GI Bill and Financial Aid.
  2. Local Veterans Employment Representative/Disabled Veterans Outreach Program
    • Arizona Department of Economic Security employs two individuals locally that assist veterans with career and education goals. These programs have access to local employers looking to hire veterans and will help veterans with resumes, cover letters, job applications, etc. They also provide case management to help veterans with other needs while they are looking for a job. More information here.
    • Located within most VA Hospitals these days is a special program for Global War on Terrorism veterans, the OEF/OIF/OND program. This program helps returning service members with their transition, particularly with getting care from the VA. This program also provides case management in order to provide returning veterans with the proper resources to make their transition successful.
  4. The Vet Center
    • The Vet Center is a VA resource specifically for counseling combat veterans. This is the primary VA mental health resource for veterans in Yavapai County. Counselors are usually combat veterans themselves and can assist veterans with their transition back to civilian life.
  5.  Arizona Department of Veterans Services
    • AZ DVS is a state run program that assists veterans with resources and with navigating the VA, especially when filing for disability claims. 

Monday, July 18, 2016

Things All Veteran Students Should Know!

Did you know that all students can sign up for Federal Financial Aid?

The number one money related question I get from veteran students is whether or not they can use Federal Financial Aid.  Most of the time when I ask the student if they have applied for financial aid they tell me that they haven't.  They are often worried about those funds interfering with their GI Bill benefits and visa versa.  The reality is that most schools, including Yavapai College, encourage their veteran students to apply for financial aid on top of their GI Bill so that things that might not be covered by their GI Bill will be covered by another funding source!

No joke!  You really can use your GI Bill and receive other financial aid at the same time!  In fact, at most schools it is really important to go through the process of applying for financial aid because if you apply for and receive scholarships that is how the school processes the scholarship.  Aside from all that, the GI Bill does not cover everything.  Classes that are not a part of your degree, books, miscellaneous supplies, all of these things are out of pocket.  But, in most cases other financial aid will cover those expenses!

So, speaking as a School Certifying Official (aka the folks who report your enrollment to the VA) and an Advisor I can say that we absolutely encourage all of our students to apply for Federal Financial Aid alongside their GI Bill benefits.  The two different funding sources do not impact one another and you only stand to gain by utilizing both!

If you would like help applying for Federal Financial Aid as a Veteran Student please contact one of the representatives at Yavapai College's Veterans Education and Transition Services Department for an appointment.  va.services@yc.edu or vub@yc.edu

Posted By Carol Beard
Advisor/Certifying Official