Plenty of Info at Veteran’s Resource Fair

By Sandra Neri:

Triton College hosted a Veteran’s Resource Fair on April 19th in the schools’ cafeteria.  Several booths were supplied with valuable information about scholarships, career opportunities, and medical benefits offered by V.A. Hospitals for those who have served in the armed forces.  One booth at the resource fair provided information aboutcareers in the health care profession offered right here at Triton College, its called The Triton College School of Continuing Education Center for Health Professionals. They offer  many programs in such areas as Physical Therapy Aide, Dental Assisting, EKG Technician, Dialysis, Phlebotomy, just to name a few.

You can find more information on all this center has to offer at www.triton.edu/continuing.

Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital was also available at the resource fair. I stopped by and spoke to the two very friendly women who were sitting at their table of information for vets, and they mentioned the programs that Edward Hines Jr. has for vets.  Among many valuable services, Edward Hines VA has: Health Care Benefits, Disability Compensation, Pension, GI Bill, Survivor Benefits, and mental health evaluations. For more information on all their programs, go to www.hines.va.gov.  Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital is located at 5000 S.5th Ave, Hines,IL.60141. They are open Monday through Friday, from 8:00AM-4:30PM, and their hotline is (708) 202-8838.

While I was at the resource fair, I also had the opportunity to speak to Joseph Kilikevice, he is the Director of the Shem Center for Interfaith Spirituality. The Shem Center is located in Oak Park, IL, and does not focus on the beliefs and practices of one faith,  but concentrates on the human spirit. To quote right from their leaflet “The diversity that is coded into the story of the universe is finding a home within the human heart. A hospitable heart that welcomes the religious and spiritual traditions of the peoples of the world sees them as part of this diversity. In seeking to heal wounds of discord, separation and exclusion, Shem Center includes in its programs spiritual practices from these many traditions”. While I spoke to Joe, he agreed with me when I pointed out to him that while many things going on in the world are out of our individual control, how we respond to these events (even as small as being treated rudely in public) is in our control. We need to accept one another for our differences, and respect each other. The Shem Center also has retreats, and has one for men only called “The Male Spirit”, which will take place from November 2-5, 2012. The Shem Center for Interfaith Spirituality is at 708 Harvey Ave., Oak Park, IL. 60302, 708.848.1095. Email address is: shemcenter@comcast.net, and the web address is: www.shemcenter.org.

Another participant who provided information for veterans was The Vet Center, also located in Oak Park, although they do have several other locations. Brian McLaughlin, Psy.D.,was available at the fair to explain all of the services provided by  The Vet Center, and is a marriage and family therapist there. Some services offered at The Vet Center are: Individual Counseling, Group Counseling, Couple/Family Counseling, Sexual Trauma Counseling, and Benefits just to name a few . The Vet Center is located at 155 S.Oak Park Ave., Oak Park, IL.60302, and the number is (708)383-3225.

Among attendants at the Veteran’s Resource Fair was veteran Cory Williams of Bensenville, IL., a student here at Triton College. Williams was kind enough to sit with me for a little while, and speak about his time in the Navy, and his Triton College experience.Williams is in his second semester of the nursing program, and speaks fondly of Triton as he told me he “really likes the school”, and has “really good teachers”.Williams is an 8 year U.S. Navy veteran, and is on non-active reserve at the moment.  A graduate of Collins High School, Williams was on the wrestling team his four years there.When asked if any members of his family are in the service, Williams mentions an older brother and uncle in the Army, also his Godfather and God brother who served in the Navy.I asked about his first deployment to Iraq, which took “a few days to adjust” to the time zone, and there was also a bit of “culture shock” which took a few weeks to get used to. The weather was also something to adjust to, as summer brought days of 140°, and the nights only came down to 95°. The soldiers were always well equipped with water, and other daily necessities. They were taken good care of.  Williams really enjoyed his time in the Navy, and “bonded” withthose he served alongside, and made some very close friends he is still in close contact with.He was asked to be the best man for one of his Navy buddies, and Godfather to his child.  While deployed, and far from home, Williams’ mother, who works in a bar, sent him care packages.  Friendly customers who know Williams through his mother often gave her things to send to himin her care packages to him. No matter how small the contribution, to Williams it always felt good to be thought of, and he greatly appreciated the gestures. His mother also threw him a welcome home party at the bar she works for when he ended his last deployment, which he really enjoyed.  While speaking with Williams, he brought up a very interesting statistic, “Only 1%, maybe 2% of the country is in the military”. That is shockingly low. While on non-active reserve, Williams can be called into active duty at any time.  I asked Williams what the troops may enjoy in a care package, “Good books, magazines, board games, socks, underwear, and snacks”. I also asked what he would say to someone thinking of joining the military, “Make sure you know it’s what you want to do, it’s an experience unlike any other…an awesome experience”.  I can’t remember if I thanked Mr. Williams for serving our country, but I want to thank him now.  Thank you to the other members of the Williams family who have also served.  Also, thank you to all those reading who have served or are currently serving our country.

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