For legions of military veterans, college is the new front

IIn the winter of 2008, Ricardo (Rico) Pereyda prepared for his final mission with military precision. Behind the walls of his boyhood home, Pereyda placed blankets on the floor of his old bedroom. He wrote a letter of apology to his estranged wife and his parents, June and José. Then he lay on the floor, cocked a 9 mm handgun, placed the barrel of the weapon in his mouth and rested his finger on the trigger.

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Vets helping vets

In December, the University of Arizona’s veterans center moved into a new space of 3,800 square feet. Nicholls, the assistant dean, shows a visitor the computer lab, a lounge and a quiet area where students unwind. He talks about the “vets-tutoring-vets” program and a résumé-writing course. He points toward a display of military patches and nameplates. “In the military, your job defines who you are,” he explains.

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Community college challenges

Creating veteran-friendly institutions is particularly difficult for community colleges. Two-year institutions enroll the majority of students who have performed military service, yet they frequently lack resources they need to help vets.

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PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE

These days, we’re often urged to “support the troops” — and rightly so. The men and women who have chosen to serve this nation, to protect us all as Americans, certainly deserve our gratitude and support.

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