Veterans Upward Bound

Uploaded by DeptVetAffairs on 06.05.2010

HOST: Since the 1970s, a Department of Education program, helped by V-A, has been assisting
Veterans make up lost ground in order to achieve their higher education goals. And it's going
strong today. The American Veteran traveled to the University of Massachusetts in Boston
to see how the "Veterans Upward Bound" program works for today's Vets.
NARRATOR: The unfortunate need to undergo two back surgeries prematurely ended the construction
career of Army Reservist Jeff Tobias. JEFF TOBIAS: The only other alternative for
me, or the only decision I could come up with was, you know what, let's get a little more
education and see what happens from there." NARRATOR: Jeff knew his future success depended
on continuing his education. But after being out of the classroom for some time, he initially
lacked enough confidence to enroll again on his own.
TOBIAS: "Pretty rusty. The last time I was in school was 2002, 2003."
NARRATOR: Jeff found out about a program designed to help Veterans pursue their educational
goals. It's called "Veterans Upward Bound." MARYBETH O'SULLIVAN: "Our job is to put it
back on their radar screens and make that opportunity happen for them."
NARRATOR: Recruiters like Marybeth O'Sullivan reach out to local Veterans to determine if
they could benefit from this very special program.
O'SULLIVAN: "Not every Veteran is eligible for our program. We are mandated by the Department
of Education to have Veterans who are either first generation or low income to come into
our program." NARRATOR: At the University of Massachusetts
in Boston, Veterans Upward Bound is made up of a 16-week course that focuses on basic
skill development—skills needed to help Veterans successfully complete a high school
equivalency program and gain admission to college. At no cost to qualified Veterans,
this unique program makes tutoring available in subjects like mathematics, foreign languages,
literature, and computer basics. A few years ago, Marybeth was able to help Army Veteran
Shelita Daniel after she had fallen on tough times.
SHELITA DANIEL: "This is the Veterans' shelter I stayed at two years ago in 2007. This is
one of last shelters I stayed in before I utilized the V-A."
NARRATOR: As Shelita dealt with a variety of issues at the homeless shelter, hitting
the books again was one of the last things on her mind.
DANIEL: "You can be the smartest person in the room. But if your personal life's not
in order or if you don't have that drive or that motivation, it can really hinder you
from doing well." NARRATOR: To take advantage of this Department
of Education program, Shelita first needed to use V-A benefits she'd earned for her military
service. As a result--with the help of both agencies--she was able to find the stability
needed to get back on her feet. . .and back into the classroom.
DANIEL: "I was able to find permanent housing through the V-A. And I was able to find part-time
employment." NARRATOR: Shelita might thank V-A for providing
some of that stability that helped her complete the 16-week course but for Marybeth, VA Medical
Centers like this one in Brockton are excellent opportunities to find eligible students for
Veterans Upward Bound. MARYBETH: "It's providing me an opportunity
for Veterans who are not necessarily able to go to a campus, a college campus, to attend
classes. And they also don't have to put off going to college for another few years."
NARRATOR: An important part of this Veterans Upward Bound is that it makes tutors available
at local V-A Medical Centers--offering G-E-D courses to Veterans like Ronald Estrella.
RONALD ESTRELLA: "Well, all I have to do is just go out the room here, boogie down a hall,
bang a left. And two seconds later, I'm right there."
LISA ROBBINS: "I think it's critical that we're able to go to them when they're in a
facility such as this. For instance, Ron in the spinal injury unit, he is not at the point
where he's able to go somewhere else. But his mind is at the point where he's really
ready for that G-E-D. So it's important that we go to him."
NARRATOR: Veterans Upward Bound is having a positive effect on the lives of its participants.
For instance, Shelita completed the program last year and is now an accounting major at
the University of Massachussets in Boston. SHELITA: "I actually never felt this way before
. I'm not at a disadvantage anymore. I feel confident I can get an "A" in the class just
like everybody else. My future seems brighter. I think before for awhile I stopped dreaming.
Now, I feel like anything is possible." HOST: There are more than 40 Veterans Upward
Bound programs in place across the United States--as well as one in Puerto Rico. If
you'd like to contact a program coordinator near you, go to the Veterans Upward Bound
website at