Nikki Davis of the WDVA, student Chris Smith (left) and CPTC Veteran Navigator Shawn Durnen share deployment stories.

Campus Event Caters to Student Veterans

October 24, 2014

In conjunction with Disability Awareness Month, Clover Park Technical College’s Veterans Resource Center and Disability Resources Office hosted representatives from the Washington Department of Veterans Affairs for a special campus event Oct. 22.

Nikki Davis, traumatic brain injury outreach coordinator with the WDVA, spent a few hours at the VRC connecting with student veterans in a comfortable, informal setting for the VRC’s Quarterly Fall-In. The event welcomed 25 students, three staff and one faculty member, and gave Davis and Veteran Navigator Shawn Durnen the opportunity to meet with veterans and provide information on resources available to them.

“It’s about empowering our vets so they can empower themselves and their families,” Davis said. “The way to do that is to educate.”

Davis understands not all veterans are the same. An Air Force veteran herself, Davis knows the needs of those who separated from service.

“This is a way to reach out and let them know, even if they’re not quite ready, there are resources you can use that can help you be ready,” she said.

Chris Smith retired from the United States Air Force after 24 years of service and is now in the Computer Networking and Information System Security Program. Smith heard about the VRC’s event and headed over for a pizza lunch and to talk about his experiences in the service.

“I’ve wanted to stop by and check out the center,” Smith said. “Today was the perfect day.”

Durnen is one of more than 30 veteran navigators in the state. He communicates with CPTC’s student veterans on a peer-to-peer level. When veteran navigators host a support event for veterans, they have the opportunity to reach out to support specialists who can provide additional resources and training.

The Tacoma Mobile Vet Center was also on location outside the VRC to assist veterans with questions about additional resources.

For more information about the VRC, please visit www.cptc.edu/veterans.

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