TACOMA -- The transition from military service to school brings a new battle of paying bills for some student veterans. When military benefits aren’t enough to make ends meet, some struggle to stay enrolled - and off the streets.
“It can be pretty challenging when you have to go out there getting an extra job when you’re going (to school) full time,” said Devin Honne, an Army veteran.
Honne, 22, is among nearly 700 other student veterans enrolled at Tacoma Community College. The group’s enrollment is increasing 20% each year.
“It can be a challenge balancing everything around if you’re on a fixed budget,” he said.
While the campus veterans’ office doesn’t track drop outs, it knows some student veterans do because of financial hardship even though they receive military benefits.
“They must live off this money. Time management and budgeting is at the forefront because if that money is mismanaged, one could find themselves possibly homeless,” said Frank McDougald, Veteran Program Specialist.
Students from a multicultural communications class saw how their veteran classmates struggled and organized a fundraiser to help.
“How else do you thank a veteran? By shaking their hand or saying we appreciate you. But, the best way to do it is rally up pride and rally up funds,” said Richard Edwardson, a student.
Spiro’s restaurant in downtown Gig Harbor will donate 10% of sales and all donations towards the Bill Harrington Fund, a scholarship to help student veterans with paying rent, utilities, groceries or gas. It runs from 4 to 9pm on March 10.
“They’re taking the time to help out veterans who actually need that assistance who don’t have the time or money,” said Honne.
All student veterans in Washington may get even more help. HB 1858 offers college credit for military training. The bill passed the House and is being debated in the Senate.
“That means fewer courses, lesser time here at the community college. You can get your degree quicker, get employed or move onto the next level,” said McDougald.
Honne says his experience in logistics could translate into credits towards a business degree and help him pursue a career in information technology.
“It’ll help cut down the time,” he said.