Marine veteran/GCC student Morgan Buchanan-Gauthier and Army veteran/GCC alum Don Alexander ’09 know Greenfield Community College is a supportive place for student veterans – they’ve felt that support as they transitioned from the military to life as a civilian.
They hope GCC’s upcoming Veterans Awareness Week on April 20-23 will help the 200-plus veterans who attend GCC and the whole GCC community knows about services available to veterans at GCC. Along with an information table in the East Building the week will feature a visit from a Mobile Veterans Center (MVC) based at the Veterans Center in Springfield. The MVC, a 38-foot motor coach, will be parked in Parking Lot A from Tuesday, April 20 to Friday, April 23 (Tuesday – Thursday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.). A Veterans Administration Technician and Counselor will be available to talk to visitors and there will be free giveaways, hot dogs, and popcorn. The MVC is not a military recruiting tool, it deals exclusively with veterans and their communities as veterans transition out of the military and into their communities.
Morgan Buchanan-Gauthier grew up in Conway and served from 2002-2006 in the 2nd Battalion 6th Marines out of Camp Lejeune, NC. Now, Morgan lives in Greenfield and is a GCC Liberal Arts student and active in the College’s Student Veterans Network Group. Morgan said, “The idea for Veterans Awareness Week came from the Student Veterans Group. We hope this Week will create visibility for student veterans and help our voices be heard on campus. The student group gives us a chance to meet other vets at GCC and share information about the VA, the GI Bill, and other vet topics.”
Don Alexander of Greenfield graduated from GCC in 2009 with an Associate in Liberal Arts focused on mathematics and is now studying toward a Bachelors degree at the University of Massachusetts. He served in the Army from 1982 to 2006, including time in Panama, Desert Storm, and Grenada. Don said, “When I started at GCC in 2007, I was fresh out of the military, adjusting to being a civilian, and scared to death to go to college. I hadn’t been to school since graduating from high school in 1980. My GCC professors were very approachable and GCC really pulled me through. The more I learned, the better I felt, moving past my painful memories.”
Veterans Awareness Week isn’t just for veterans. Diane O’Hearn said, “Everyone from the community is welcome, and we hope the week will also provide information to GCC faculty and staff about the needs of student veterans.” One community member, Robert T. Cartelli, of Toyota Ford of Greenfield, has made a donation to the College earmarked for support services for student veterans, including events like Veterans Awareness Week. Cartelli said, “Isn’t it time we give back to those whose lives, in many cases, have been changed forever?”