FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - Over the past few years, Coconino Community College professor Bryan Bates has had more and more military veterans show up as students in his classroom.
"Some do well, but many times, some are really struggling," said Bates, who has been a science professor at CCC since the college opened in 1991. "These men and women in the service have done an incredible job serving our country and I just get the sense that they're not getting the support they deserve when they come back."
With that reasoning, Bates and his wife Barbara decided to establish a CCC Veterans Scholarship, to benefit military veterans who take classes at the college. "We hope this will encourage others to give and make more scholarships available," Bates said.
A scholarship will go a long way to help veterans cover expenses that Veterans Affairs doesn't, said Reuben Salazar, a CCC financial aid advisor who works with military veterans. "Every veteran has different needs, but if they have to buy a computer to do their school work or other things that will help them successfully balance school, work and family life, this could help them."
Bates gives money through the CCC Foundation's Employee Deduction Plan, where a set amount of money is taken out of his paycheck and deposited into an account set aside for the scholarship. Foundation officials estimate it should take about a year to fund the $1,000 scholarship and made available for the 2014 school year.
""My wife and I talked about what we can do to say thank you for your service to this country," Bates said. "Let's help them lead productive lives and achieve a good, long-term career potential, at least with their associate degree and hopefully their bachelor's degree and beyond."
Bates said he's heard student stories of veteran paychecks not arriving and of Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome and trouble holding down jobs and personal relationships.
"If a scholarship can help one or two of our veterans, maybe they will be able to work out the other stuff. They might tell some of their buddies, 'Hey, CCC has a scholarship available. I can take two classes, hold down a part-time job and still get the help I need to get my life together,' " Bates said.
If you would like to donate to the CCC Veterans Scholarship and speed up its availability date of 2014, please call the CCC Foundation Office at 928-226-4335 for more information.