Vail Daily column: College connects with vets

Kathryn Regjo
Valley Voices
Kathryn Regjo

Did you know that, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, there are more than 2,300 veterans in Eagle County? This means that 4.5 percent of our county’s population has served in the military; this is only slightly smaller than the percentage of our population that is under the age of 5.

Our veterans in the valley include those who served in wars and conflicts over the past eight decades. Many times, those who served — sometimes on multiple tours — returned home to find themselves disconnected and misunderstood. Often those same veterans returned home with a desire to pick up where they left off, but found that they needed to start all over.

For years, Colorado Mountain College has held in high regard the veteran population, providing lower tuition rates that complement education benefits which qualified individuals already receive. Still, we wanted to do more, so we’ve sought ways to connect our veteran students to the local veteran community. We realize how fortunate we are to be surrounded by those who have served our country, and we wanted to be sure their stories were shared with all members of the community.

To this end, CMC is partnering with veterans throughout the valley on our Vets Connect program. This program is designed to connect a student veteran with a community veteran who has had similar experiences, returning to school after a career in the military. The veterans of the valley have launched amazing careers and given back to the community in astounding ways. They know that the education they received was key to their success. They also had to navigate the differences between academic life and military life — wisdom they can share with CMC’s growing student vet population.

CMC has also begun a partnership with Eagle County’s Office of Veterans Affairs to offer a weekly meeting at our Edwards campus for community vets to enjoy each other’s company, coffee and a doughnut or three. These sessions take place on Mondays from 10 a.m. to noon, and all veterans, students and community members are welcome.

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This is also a tremendous opportunity for anyone to hear history brought to life, up close and in person. I have had the chance to meet with several of our local service men and women, and leave every time in awe of their service, their contributions, the way they create a framework for wrestling with today’s challenges and their desire to give back to the community.

Also, in partnership with the Office of Veterans Affairs, every Monday from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m., CMC hosts stretching/yoga sessions for all veterans, designed to increase flexibility and mobility.

It is our hope that veterans and their families throughout the valley feel that CMC can be a place to be connected with fellow veterans, inspire the future of our nation and find opportunities to continue a common interest among many of our valley veterans: a deep desire to never stop learning. For more information, stop by the campus or call 970-569-2900.

Dr. Kathryn Regjo is the campus vice president of Colorado Mountain College in Edwards.

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