By Ramon J. Barrera III
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic causing everyone to work remotely, the staff of the Victory Center is still available to help veterans, active duty members and military family members get enrolled.
“We specialize and provide help to veterans, active duty, and dependents of veterans get all the help and need-to-know information at their disposal. The V.A. offers a variety of help to our vets and soldiers, such as academic advising, tutoring, financial aid and much more,” Tammy Micallef, director of the Victory Center, said.
The Victory Center is a $7.6 million building at North Main Avenue and Dewey Street that was established in May 2018 with the intention of helping all veterans, active duty members and military family members.
“Because of the pandemic, everyone went remote and is working from home since March 16,” Micallef said. “We will definitely be staying remote through the end of the semester; we cannot go back until the school can reach a 75% capacity.”
However, going remote was not a simple process for all students. “We have encountered difficulty initially because not everyone is super tech savvy. These were initially difficult getting everyone to understand and use Zoom, both students and staff,” Micallef said.
“So, a big part was making sure the staff had all the right equipment, connectivity and access to everything they needed to work in a remote environment,” Micallef said. “Over time it got much easier for everyone on the staff getting used to working remotely. Now we just concentrate harder, working with the students who need help.”
Micallef said she would like students to take more advantage of the Victory Center’s webpage. “When we are on campus, the Victory Center is considered a one-stop shop. We have everything that anyone should need, so we tried to do the same thing with our webpage and turn it into a one-stop shop.”
At the Victory Center, the VA offers education benefits certification, vocational rehabilitation and tuition assistance. They also offer tutoring, PTSD life coaching, veteran disability claims ,and they also have a vet success campus counselor.
Seven months into the pandemic, many obstacles remain.
“One challenge that we also had was getting students to use their ACES email whether we are at school or not, in this case, not,” Micallef said. “The ACES email is the number one means of communication across all five alamo Colleges. Students may feel like they are being spammed because we send a lot of emails, however, a lot of it is pertinent information.”
Students may overlook the ACES email because everyone already has at least one personal email account. All messages sent through ACES email are official college communications. Students should use ACES for all communication with instructors, advisers or administrators.
“On the webpage, I have a little video on there that shows a way to forward your student email to your personal email so they do not have to keep logging into ACES regularly, instead be up-to-date immediately,” Micallef said.
For more information, visit www.alamo.edu/sac/about-sac/college-offices/sac-victory-center/