State Senate Democrats issued this news release Wednesday about two state senators who visited Norwalk Community College to see the services the school provides to veterans:
State Senators Bob Duff (D-Norwalk) and Carlo Leone (D-Stamford) paid a visit to the campus of Norwalk Community College (NCC) on Wednesday, a day when the college was celebrating a new partnership with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
NCC has become one of the first academic institutions in the state to implement the VA’s Veterans Integration to Academic Leadership (VITAL) program on campus for students who are veterans.
“Higher education has never been more important for a successful career, and our military veterans certainly deserve nothing less. I am very proud to have an academic institution like NCC right here in Norwalk, leading the way on welcoming veterans to campus and providing them will all of the benefits they have earned through their service,” said Senator Duff.
Senator Carlo Leone serves as the Senate Chairman of the General Assembly’s Veterans’ Affairs Committee.
“Helping veterans to succeed in the civilian workforce has been a passion of mine for many years, and is in fact is a major focus of this year’s legislative session. By working to make veterans services so readily available on their campus, Norwalk Community College is setting an example for all other academic institutions to follow,” said Senator Leone.
The legislators presented a citation to Norwalk Community College on Wednesday, lauding the institution’s participation in the VITAL program. It read in part:
In recognition of Norwalk Community College’s commitment to Veterans’ academic achievement through the Veterans Integration To Academic Leadership (VITAL) initiative.
Through this partnership, the College provided a Veteran advisor, more space for Veteran students, outreach through their Office of Student Disabilities to meet the special learning needs of some Veterans, and a space for staff to meet with Veterans.
Norwalk Community College, particularly through the leadership of College President Dr. David Levinson and Dean of Students Dr. Robert Baer, is an inspiration to the Veteran community.
VITAL aims to help veterans succeed in college by informing them of VA benefits, programs and resources.
Its mission is to provide world-class healthcare and improve the overall mental health of student veterans, while supporting their successful integration into college and university campuses through seamless access to VA healthcare services and on-campus clinical counseling.
Norwalk Community College has fully implemented the program, including comprehensive outreach to the entire student body and faculty, including:
- Training college faculty on military culture
- Coordinating with Student Veterans of America and other student veteran organizations
- Assisting campuses with the creation of support programs
- Providing onsite mental-health counseling
- Case management and enrollment into VA programs
- Educating veterans on benefits available to them.
Norwalk Community College has also opened a Veterans Lounge where veteran students can study or relax, spend time with friends, or meet with the Veteran dedicated advisor, Scott Smith, a Veteran himself. They can also meet with a VITAL counselor like Amy Kaplan.
Kaplan is a licensed clinical social worker who spends several days a week at NCC helping returning heroes navigate the maze of federal benefits and expedite their paperwork. She also offers career guidance and helps connect them to a network of local employers who’ve expressed in interest in hiring vets. As a VITAL representative and trained counselor, Kaplan is able to cut through red tape. She may be reached at 203-800-5512.
“We know that going back to school is a large undertaking in and of itself, on top of readjusting to civilian life and dealing with piles of benefits paperwork. If veteran students have any questions or concerns, please reach out to us, we are here and happy to help,” said Amy Kaplan, VITAL Initiative Program Coordinator.