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Veterans with business dreams find new path at COCC

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- For veterans with entrepreneurial ambitions, a newly established benefit program — the first of its kind in the state — will allow them to enroll in educational programming at Central Oregon Community College’s Small Business Development Center, using GI Bill assistance.

Veterans can contact the SBDC at 541-383-7290 or sbdc@cocc.edu to learn more and get started by scheduling a benefits appointment.

The recently approved certification by the Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs will open new doors of opportunity for eligible veterans throughout Central Oregon, funding access to non-credit business classes, entrepreneurial workshops and an immersive business management program.

Ken Betschart, director of the SBDC since early last year, recognized that this specific benefit for veterans — signed into federal law in 2003 — was missing from the application process of the statewide SBDC network, which comprises 19 different education centers. In fact, Betschart noted that the benefit has yet to catch on in many states.

“Ours was the first SBDC approval for the Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs state approving agency,” he said. “We’re honored to be on the leading edge of this benefit service in Oregon, helping connect veterans with this supported educational path.”

There are approximately 304,000 veterans in the state of Oregon, with 47% under the age of 65, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Current COCC enrollment figures indicate that 306 credit-seeking and 14 non-credit-seeking students disclosed as veterans on their college application.

“Our team is really looking forward to helping more regional veterans follow their business dreams,” added Betschart.

The college’s SBDC has supported veterans in the past with a scholarship program that provided for a 40% discount on all business classes. Recently, some local veteran business owners received a scholarship to join the center’s yearlong small business management program.

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  1. The 2003 federal benefit was “missing” from the application form for this long???

    The Post 9-11 Veterans Education Program, still referred to as the “G.I. Bill”, is at the best it has been since post WW2 when it was first enacted. To include its Chapter 31 Vocational Rehabilitation program for those who qualify due to, for example, their wounds, injuries, or illnesses determined to be military service connected requiring a vocational change in order to as likely as not return to the work force.

    Shame on Oregon’s Department of Veterans Affairs for not catching this missing law since 2003…what were you-all doing in the meantime at ODVA?

    And yes, Oregon colleges and universities are now, since the pandemic shut them down, are scrambling to recoup tuition income from wherever they can. The Post 9-11 Veteran education program(s) of which there are many to include a veteran being able to assign her/his educational benefit to a family member if she/he so chooses to do so, brings in good $$ and consistently as long as the Veteran meets each quarter or semester’s enrollment requirements to include G.P.A..

    And there are states in the county that offer FREE college tuition to veterans who can use their VET education benefits – and Oregon is NOT one of these.

    https://militarybenefits.info/states-offer-free-tuition-veterans/

    So don’t pat yourselves on the back ODVA/COCC…all you’ve done is catch up, for purely economical reasons that benefit you, with a law passed and no doubt put into effect by other states’ Veteran programs who were not asleep at the wheel as you clearly have been…and at the expense of Vets who could have/would have benefited beginning in 2003.

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