They have served our country and now Tulsa Community College is trying to help serve veterans who return to college. More than 2,000 members of the Oklahoma National Guard’s 45thInfantry Brigade Combat Team returned from a tour in Afghanistan in March and April of 2012. Jeff Gruszeczki was one of them. Before his deployment, Gruszeczki was a part-time academic advisor at Tulsa Community College, and upon his return he became a full-time academic advisor and veteran advocate at Tulsa Community College Southeast Campus.
He describes his job as a liaison to help veterans go from combat to the classroom. Since he is a veteran, he understands the challenges our veterans face. “Soldiers with the 45thInfantry Brigade Combat Team are spread across northeastern Oklahoma and some are in other states. They are disconnected geographically when they return to the states,” says Gruszeczki. In addition, he believes it helps for veterans to talk to another veteran. “This is a group of people who don’t like to be seen as needing help, but sometimes that guidance coming from another veteran who understands what they have been through is received better.”
Gruszeczki noticed that a number of veterans work full-time jobs, go to college full-time and have families, and that leaves little time for student organizations. So, he took an existing student organization and converted it to a virtual student organization on Facebook. SWAMO, which stands for Student Vets and Active Military Organization, is designed to allow veterans to connect and enable a smooth transition from military to civilian life.
“It was hard to get buy-in for the student organization because veterans couldn’t make a specific meeting because of other commitments to work, school or family but they can get to a computer,” says Gruszeczki. He says veterans may still decide not to post on the online student organization but he does get emails from veterans and can help them connect with information or resources.”
The Facebook link for SWAMO: https://www.facebook.com/groups/SVAMO/
Tulsa Community College also maintains Veterans Resource Centers on every campus because veterans are an important part of the student body. The centers are a place where veterans can study, use a computer, or connect with other veterans. In addition, TCC has a Veterans Services Office on TCC’s Metro Campus that provides information, advisement and a link to one-on-one assistance for veterans seeking to enhance their future through higher education.
For information about TCC Veterans Services contact:
Caroline Baker, TCC Veterans Certifying Official
Metro Campus, Rm. 1021
Tulsa Community College
Metro Campus: 909 South Boston Avenue Tulsa, Oklahoma 74119
Northeast Campus: 3727 East Apache Street Tulsa, Oklahoma 74115
Southeast Campus: 10300 East 81st Street Tulsa, Oklahoma 74133
West Campus: 7505 W 41st Street South Tulsa, Oklahoma 74107
Conference Center: 6111 East Skelly Drive Tulsa, Oklahoma 74135