Whatever challenges they may have faced and conquered, military veterans sometimes find the transition to academic life confusing, frustrating and even jarring. Eric Glaudé understands—and is ready to help.
An ex-Army man himself—he served with the 101st Airborne in the 1960s—Glaudé is BMCC’s counselor specializing in veteran affairs. Working closely with veteran counselors in each of the college’s administrative departments, he provides support and guidance to veterans enrolled at BMCC, “helping them maintain their academic standing, graduate, and, hopefully, go on to further study at a senior college.”
Navigating the complexities of academic life
BMCC’s veteran services, which operate within the Department of Student Affairs and Student Life, “are similar to other vet-friendly programs throughout the CUNY system,” Glaudé says.
“Basically, we’re tasked to help veteran-students navigate the complexities of enrollment and registration, inform them of education-related veterans benefits and help them deal with any issues they may face—academic, administrative, vocational, or psychological.”
To that list of potential issues, Glaudé might add “logistical.” More than one veteran has shown up at Glaudé’s Chambers Street office, stymied by an inability to find his or her way around the campus or locate a specific office.
“When you’re in the military, you become accustomed to completing clear-cut missions and following orders,” says Glaudé, who earlier counseled World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War combat veterans during a long career with the VA. “In contrast, the academic environment can feel confusing and nebulous. So we have actually enlisted student volunteers to stand by and, when needed, escort veterans to wherever they need to go.”
Most veteran benefits are provided by the Veterans Administration, which will underwrite the cost of tuition, books, housing and tutoring and, in many cases, provide emergency financial aid. Veterans enrolled at BMCC may also be eligible for up to two years of unemployment insurance, depending on their major.
“Veterans are often unaware of these benefits—or that they need to be certified as students to qualify,” says Glaudé. “So, one of our main functions is to handle the certification process and also inform students about the full range of benefits—including those from BMCC and CUNY as well as from the federal government.”
Since arriving at BMCC last year, Glaudé has seen the school’s veteran-student population more than double from 156 to approximately 350 today, including 15 women (one of whom was awarded a Purple Heart).
“At least five or six of our veteran students have seen heavy combat in Iraq and Afghanistan,” he says. With the cessation of U.S. operations in Iraq, some 100,000 military personnel will return stateside. “Many will no doubt enroll in college, and that will bring new demands on programs like ours,” Glaudé says.
Glaudé is ready. “I am deeply honored to have been selected for this position,” he says. “The men and women we assist have made invaluable contributions and personal sacrifices. As a veteran myself, I feel privileged to have a role in helping them make the most of their college experience.”