CFCC Veterans Center open to community
The Bob Philpott Veterans Center at CFCC is open to all student veterans, active military, and their families. The Center is not limited to just CFCC students. It is available to all veterans and active military within our community.
There are a few locations at CFCC. One is on the downtown Wilmington campus in the Union Station building. The others are located on CFCC’s North Campus in the NB building and at the CFCC’s Alston W. Burke Center at Surf City. All centers offer a space for student veterans to receive assistance, mentoring, and connect with other veterans.
Serving on the Front Line
Jason Bocchino is the Veterans Center Coordinator. He brings a career full of experience to CFCC. Bocchino retired from the U.S. Navy in 2018. During his nearly 25 years in the Navy, Bocchino worked as security for the chaplains, a librarian, and a counseling program coordinator.
“The job was so diverse,” shared Bocchino. “But it involved a lot of administrative work. I organized programs and events and coordinated with other departments to serve the sailors and their families.”
Got Your Six
Half of Bocchino’s duties at the Veterans Center include helping students with their VA education benefits. For each student veteran, Bocchino certifies their enrollment and courses, then submits the information to the VA.
“I get to help them understand and learn the process to receive and keep their benefits,” Bocchino explained. “CFCC is a transition school so we get a lot of veterans that come straight out of the military. They’re transitioning from military life to the civilian world and college. These changes can be overwhelming.”
Student veterans are not required to use their VA benefits to join the Veterans Center. Some students are self-pay or have used up their GI Bill. Bocchino can help guide those students to other scholarship and grant opportunities.
Most student veterans use one of these VA education benefits:
Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty
Available to eligible veterans who served at least two years on active duty after June 30, 1985.
Post-9/11 GI Bill (Chapter 33)
Available to eligible veterans who served on active duty after September 10, 2011.
VA Readiness and Employment (Chapter 31)
Available to service members and Veterans with service-connected disabilities.
Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance (Chapter 35)
Available to eligible dependent spouses or children of a Veteran.
Good Piece of Gear
Another big part of Bocchino’s duties is advising, counseling, mentoring, and advocating for student veterans. As a veteran himself, Bocchino can relate to the students. He understands how easy it is to get frustrated with the process. “They’re familiar and comfortable with somebody like me because I’ve been there,” Bocchino said. “If they’ve got questions, concerns, or issues, I advocate for them.”
Bocchino explains that he has also used many of these VA benefits. Before he retired, he used his active duty tuition assistance, transferred his GI Bill to his children, and used the Readiness and Employment benefit. Bocchino understands the processes that go into those benefits. Bocchino commented,
“I want to give the same service to all veterans I want to receive. I want to give the same service to all the family members I wanted my family to receive.”
Good Initiative, Good Judgment
Bocchino is always working to bring additional services and benefits to student veterans. He is also coordinating professional development seminars for CFCC faculty and staff to understand veteran students’ challenges.
To further help student veterans with transition challenges, Bocchino arranged a partnership between the CFCC Veterans Center and the Jacksonville Vet Center to offer readjustment counseling in CFCC’s Veterans Center.
Twice a month, licensed therapists and counselors from the Jacksonville Vet Center are available on CFCC’s downtown campus to meet with our student veterans and their families. This service is also open to all veterans in our community.
For a more creative outlet, CFCC’s English department offers StoryForce, a workshop designed to provide CFCC veterans and military family members a safe and respectful space on campus to share stories of the veterans and military family members. Writings, artwork, and photography are shared on the Storyforce webpage.
If you want to learn more about the Veterans Center, VA education benefits, counseling sessions, or volunteering at the Center, stop by and visit the Bob Philpott Veterans Center on the first floor of the Union Station Building. Bocchino or any work-study student veterans will be happy to answer questions and show you around.