OGDEN -- Ogden-Weber Applied Technology College has remodeled a space to be its new Veterans Center and hired its first veterans counselor, to begin work July 1.
"Our veteran population is increasing, with the end of the war in Afghanistan," said Cathy Bolin, OWATC student services director. "In fiscal year 2011, we had 44 (veteran students), and in fiscal year 2012, we had 87."
Veterans are a population with specific needs, Bolin said, and Ogden-Weber Tech College will be doing all it can to help them streamline their technical education, to get credit for proficiencies they gained in the military and to get jobs related to their strengths.
"We want to make sure everything is in place for them, so there's not a lot of stress," Bolin said.
"We are providing one central point of contact. The new counselor will be responsible from the time they (veterans) set foot on campus to the time they leave for their jobs."
Scott Teuscher will be the counselor. He has worked as a veterans employment counselor for the Utah Department of Workforce Services, and he served in the Navy from 1999 through 2006, with three years in Iraq and three in San Diego.
"This is my true calling, to be a veterans counselor and guide," said Teuscher, whose first duty will be designing the programs he will run.
"I'm excited to help our student veterans. This school is the perfect transition step between military service and careers or further education. I hope they will feel they can come see me about anything."
Bolin said a student veterans focus group that met before the hiring came back with a specific request that the new counselor be a veteran.
"They wanted someone who could relate to their experiences, even if it was nothing more than listening to their conversations," she said.
Bolin said people who leave a highly structured life in the military have to make an adjustment to transition to OWATC, where the study and work pace is self-directed, and students come and go as needed.
OWATC programs are competency-based, requiring students to demonstrate adequate skills before instructors allow them to move to the next skill or task level.