Veterans Upward Bound faces threat of elimination from campus due to lack of Department of Education funding

Henry Kaynes(left) is retired Army and has been a volunteer tutor for the past two years at the center. Student DeVale Barner (right) who was a Marine. He is studying Criminal Justice and is in his second year. Photo credit: Kathryn Chadbourn

10 out of 49 Veterans Upward Bound programs are to be cut due to a lack of funding from the Department of Education. The Veterans Upward Bound program at MCTC is one of these 10 to get cut.

VUB is a federal grant-funded preparatory program within Trio (a program for first-generation, low-income students) that allows veterans who have any status aside from a dishonorable discharge to ease their way into college along with other veterans.

According to Craig Asche, director of VUB, “Grant cycle lasts for five years. This year’s grant cycle was delayed and delayed to the point that no one got results until even after their time was officially up.”

He said that “of the 10 that were not renewed, one of them got nixed out because of a technicality on a mistake they made, so their proposal wasn’t even looked at. The other four [that I had talked to] had been around since VUB had started 43 years ago. The VUBs that are around longer tend to serve more VUB students each year. Because of that they tend to cost a little bit more money.”

VUB at MCTC is one of the largest, with funding to serve 154 veterans.

Veterans Center
Photo credit: Kathryn Chadbourn

According to Kent Smead, an instructor with VUB, the Department of Education and Lyndon B. Johnson started the Trio program in 1964 to help end poverty. VUB was then added in 1974, 10 years later, as a way to help Vietnam War veterans re-integrate into society and the workforce. MCTC’s VUB program has existed since the beginning of VUB at that time.

Larry Heller, a guest writer for CCN and president of the American Sign Language Club, said he would not be at MCTC if it weren’t for Veterans Upward Bound.

He lauded the commitment and support offered by Asche and said “I suffered from high anxiety and low confidence, Director Asche patiently walked me through the enrollment process and gave me a tour of the school. Every time I second guessed myself he was there to lend encouragement.” He said he now has a 4.0 GPA, is active in senate, and has attended numerous leadership training activities.

He said that Asche has helped many veterans in tough times to come to college. “Without the VUB program and Director Asche, many veterans would simply slip through the cracks; to be forgotten by the society that they selflessly worked to protect.”

Asche stressed that VUB is still around until the end of the year.

“Everybody currently in VUB or wanting to join is open to be a part of it until the end of the semester,” he said. “Take advantage of it while you got it [because] time is of the essence.”

Veterans Upward Bound will be cut from MCTC on Dec. 29 unless the group is able to find a way to remain funded. This is the third Trio program to be cut at MCTC this year.

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