Veterans enter workforce with help from Wisconsin's
After nearly five years in the Army and three tours in Iraq, Brent Rapos
found educational and career success at Wisconsin Indianhead Technical
College. Rapos chose accounting because he always liked numbers.
been a number of years since I had been in school and when I started taking
classes, I wasn’t sure I could switch careers,” Rapos said. He enrolled in
online classes through WITC so he could continue to work and support his family.
his comfort level with the college grew and so did his confidence. Rapos
completed his associate degree and is working toward an online bachelor’s
degree. He also started a tax return preparation business. That confidence was
former sergeant credits Cheryl Pich, financial aid advisor at the WITC Rice Lake
campus, with helping him access the Wisconsin GI Bill benefits available to him.
so helpful with what benefits are best for you and all the different paperwork
required. Cheryl was very proactive, getting the information needed before the
deadlines,” he said. “I also felt she really appreciated my service.”
who faced challenges during their service return to Wisconsin with leadership
skills that can be a great match for the
education and training available
through the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS). By accessing the WTCS,
veterans contribute to their college community, which only enhances their value
to Wisconsin business and industry.
According to the
American Council on Education (ACE), more than 2 million
soldiers are transitioning to civilian life after serving in Iraq and
Afghanistan. The number of students using their Wisconsin GI Bill benefits in
the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) has increased dramatically since
these new state education benefits became available during the 2005-06 school
year, when about 1,000 eligible veterans or the eligible spouses or dependents
first used the program. During the 2011-12 academic year, almost 4,500
Wisconsin veterans or spouses or dependents used the Wisconsin GI Bill in the
vets in any way we can,” says Terry Klein, the director of financial aid for
WITC. “We will answer any questions via phone, e-mail, or in person and we try
to meet with each veteran in person to explain the process and gather the
information we need to process their benefits,” Klein says. “We keep up to date
on any changes to educational benefits so that we can pass this information on
to our veteran students. We also work to resolve any problems that might come up
in regards to their benefits.”
enrolled in classes at WITC, the college has another form of assistance for
veterans. Organizations for veterans exist or are quickly being added at WITC’s
four main campuses to help provide useful information and resources to veterans
throughout the school year.
group at WITC’s Rice Lake campus offers support to veterans for academic
success. It also provides a place and time for veterans to gather, network, and
support one another, and helps to identify unmet needs unique to veterans.
works hard to identify the needs of veterans and how to best help veterans and
their families succeed,” said WITC President Bob Meyer. “Veterans bring a
wealth of experience and add tremendously to our college communities and we are
honored to help them succeed.”