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Veterans find their place at Owens

November 2011 - Cpl. Jeff Goetz, Marines

In his first semester at Owens Community College, Cpl. Jeff Goetz has formed a positive opinion of the College's new Office of Veterans Services.

The U.S. Marines reservist received a letter from the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs indicating he owed money for over-payment of his tuition.

He immediately sought help from the Office of Veterans Services in College Hall, where he met with Representative Yolanda Houle, a U.S. Navy veteran.

Cpl. Jeff Goetz

Jeff Goetz
U.S. Marines
Owens Community College student

"It wasn't even 10 minutes and she had the problem fixed," Goetz said. "It's a big nightmare for a lot of (veterans) working with the VA."

He also spent time talking with new Director Vickie Adams that day, discussing what the office can do to support him and the college's 300-plus veteran students. He said from his experiences, he would tell any veteran to "go and see what they have to offer because they do have quite a bit to offer us."

Owens Community College has educated U.S. Armed Forces personnel since opening in 1965, but its focus of serving veterans expanded with the opening of the Office of Veterans Services; all staff members are veterans.

"We understand our students because we have lived their lives," said Adams, a retired U.S. Air Force commander. "We've served through war or non-combat service. We've experienced the red tape. We've transitioned to life back home. We know what it's like for them. We understand the big picture. We want to listen to their stories and help them."

Owens was recently named a G.I. Jobs Military Friendly School and the Student Veterans Club is a member of the Student Veterans of America.

"We want to ensure that our population of veteran students succeeds and our office is here to serve as a resource for them to do just that," Adams added.

Goetz graduated from Toledo Rogers High School in 2006 and had an opportunity to attend a technical college in Connecticut, but instead enlisted in the U.S. Marines. He spent nine months in Iraq in 2009, when his regiment helped close Multi-National Force-1 West in Camp Ramadi.

"I wanted to be a military policeman," said Goetz, 24 and now living in Perrysburg. "A year before getting out of active duty, I was not planning on leaving. I had so much fun doing security work, security for buildings and weapons transport. As a backup, in case I couldn't become an MP, I started emailing all the sheriffs in Ohio and every single one of them told me I needed to be OPOTA certified."

Due to a reduction in force in the Marines and a lack of MP jobs, Goetz said he ended his active duty contract and became a reserve in May 2011. Owens offered the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy (OPOTA) certification program for Goetz to move into a law enforcement career, so he applied and enrolled for Fall Semester 2011. The Office of Veterans Services helped him through the process. He will graduate in March 2012.

He said he's looking forward to more involvement with the Student Veterans Club as the year continues.

"Military-wide they preach camaraderie. That's what instilled in us. A lot of problems students might have in their personal lives or academically or whatever the case might be, they won't have to deal with it alone. There's the club and its members to help each other," he said.

For more information about the Office of Veterans Services at Owens Community College, call (567) 661-VETS.

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