Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Top Military Advisor Visits EVVEC

Col. Sutherland meets veteran and student David Jackson.
A top military member visited the East Valley Veterans Education Center (EVVEC) on Wednesday to observe how the new facility is working to assist Arizona’s veterans and their families. 

Col. David Sutherland, Special Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, met with EVVEC leaders as part of his efforts to seek out best practices in veteran and family services.

“When I saw this center, it resonated with me,” Sutherland said. “Veterans have challenges when they come home. They face isolation. They need to connect with other veterans and with community services that enable education and meaningful employment.”

The EVVEC, hosted by Rio Salado College, opened last month as a "one-stop-shop" where veterans can get practical information about the educational resources available to successfully pursue a college education.

Touring the facility, Sutherland noted the importance of community partnerships in the successful transition from military member to student.

“I’m on the road 22 days a month, going into communities to pull together the efforts of educators, nonprofits and service providers,” Sutherland said. “By bringing in community partnerships, you enable veterans to connect with each other and to the support they need.”

The EVVEC hosts monthly educational and employment related workshops in conjunction with their community partners, and also offers veterans assistance with applying for VA benefits, referrals to community resources, and cultural events/activities to ease the transition to college life.

Community partners include the Arizona Departments of Veterans Services and Economic Security, the Phoenix VA Regional Office, Phoenix VA Healthcare System and the Veterans Upward Bound Program.

“Military members are leaving behind bonds that exist on the battlefield,” Sutherland said. “Whether it is in Africa, Korea, Afghanistan, Nellis Air Force Base or Iraq, the bond is unlike any other. You deploy, fight, and redeploy as a family. When you return, you are looking for something to fill that void.”

To learn more about the programs and services available to veterans and their families visit