NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Millions of veterans are currently returning from deployment. Many choose to enter university studies. They have experienced events far removed from a college classroom, so easing into the life of a college student can be difficult.
At Stephen F. Austin State University, a lot of help is available through the newly created Veterans Resource Center.
Eric Benbrooks served 10 years in the Air Force. He has three deployments under his belt. Now, he is a staff member at SFA's Veterans Resource Center. The former bomb squad member's nerves of steel were rattled when he returned from active duty to school in 2008.
"There was no resource center," Benbrooks said. "I was sent from point A to point B, given information to go back to another location and it was very confusing."
However, Benbrooks promised that is something that will never happen to another returning veteran.
"We're developing the one-stop shop," Benbrooks said.
John Fontenot is the VRC Coordinator. The former Army Ranger helps vets with counseling health services, financial aid, plus a whole lot more.
"We're working on our community service," Fontenot said. "We're working on our resumes. We're to doing everything right to make our veterans more employable."
To make it happen, SFA's administration followed a tip from returning veterans. Give them their space.
"It gets us away from the hustle and bustle of student life," Adrien Jablonowaski, who served as a Navy equipment operator for three years, said. "It's great to be in here with other people who have served."
"You've seen the world in a different point of view from what most kids have, so the level that you're at than most kids, you're a little more mature," Kelly Allen, who served as a combat engineer with the Texas Army National Guard for five years, said.
There are about 200 veterans attending SFA. The VRC's goal is to see each one walk the graduation stage.
"Since we opened in March of 2012, we've graduated 47 veterans," Fontenot said.
Each one wore a camo-tipped sash to tell everyone watching that they've served their university and their country.