South Texas College (STC) student Juan Manuel Hernandez talks about his motivation to return to school despite not being a full-time student since he graduated high school in 1978.
Hernandez, 58, is a veteran and former aviation mechanic in the Army from 1978 until 1995. Once he retired from the military, Hernandez said he began working at the Evins Juvenile Detention Center in Edinburg where he worked for the next 16 years.
A decision late in life prompted him to return to college to pursue a long time goal of starting his own business. Along the way, he said, he became familiar with numerous organizations designed to assist veterans adjusting to civilian life.
“There are many veterans who do not know the benefits that are available to them. We provide that information to them here,” Hernandez said. “To me, being here at South Texas College was a great opportunity. We have a lot of veterans who come here, and the faculty works with them. We tend to help each other as much as we can.
“A veteran who comes to STC will not be on his or her own. If a veteran reaches out for assistance, he can find it here, especially with all the veterans on campus who are willing to help out,” Hernandez said.
The Office of Veterans Affairs at South Texas College will host the expo today, April 25 at the Mid-Valley Campus. Time for the event will be from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Created as a resource for veterans in the community, the expo will consist of area vendors who will be on hand distributing information of the benefits and services available to them.
Vendors at the expo will assist veterans with applying for grants that can be used towards rent, utilities, daycare for children, tuition assistance and transportation.
Organizations attending will provide a wide range of services including legal aid, mental health care, veterans’ benefit claims assistance, hearing loss, home care, mortgage loans, small business start-up assistance and PTSD therapy assistance.
“The Expo is designed to bring awareness to veterans, especially student veterans and those organizations that provide services to veterans,” said Jessie Luna, Veterans Outreach Coordinator at South Texas College. “This will be valuable not only for veterans, but also their dependents who are looking for assistance as they transition from military service into civilian life.
“This is not only for students, but those veterans in the community who want to stop by,” Luna said.
Those who are seeking more information can call Jessie Luna, Veterans Outreach Coordinator at 956- 872-2606 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org