UNC CORE To Be Offered At Camp Lejeune

Military members at Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina looking to further their education now have a new option.

UNC has extended their CORE Certificate Program to give service members a chance to earn their degree.

“That program is really a [UNC] system-wide initiative, but it’s led by [UNC] Chapel Hill. And it’s designed to accelerate higher-education opportunities for active-duty military in North Carolina,” UNC spokesperson Jim Gregory said. “It involves self-paced and summer-based courses that take advantage of what’s already available out there.”

Rob Bruce, director of the Friday Center, said online courses will be taken at the convenience of the service member and are designed to prepare them for entry into a UNC-System school.

“The requirement is 27 hours of credit over the course of two or three years,” Bruce said. “You might have literature courses or physics or math or chemistry and you build the certificate by completing these courses.”

Once the certificate is earned, all credits will transfer to any UNC-System school.

“It really gives military students a strong foundation in general education courses,” he said. “It really sets them up for the ultimate goal, which is for them to be admitted into a degree program and for them to complete their degree.”

UNC CORE is scheduled to accept its first group of certificate enrollees in the fall.


Marathon Jam Returns Saturday

The Chapel Hill Marathon Jam will be held at the American Legion Chapel Hill on Saturday, February 27, 2016, from 1 p.m. to 1 a.m.

Marathon Jam is a non-profit organization that raises money to help injured veterans.

The Marathon Jam gathers musicians and artists of all ages and styles to play music and create art for twelve straight hours, with the musicians generating donations by securing sponsors for each hour they participate in the jam.

In 2016 the Jam began offering programs for first responders as well.

“In eight years we’ve raised over $100,000,” said John Santa, musician and organizer. “All of that money has stayed in North Carolina.”

All proceeds from the event will be donated to the Fisher House at Ft. Bragg in Fayetteville.

The Marathon Jam has even expanded beyond Chapel Hill, where it began. Jams have been held across 20 states and three countries, totaling more than $500,000 in donations.

Hear Ron Stutts talk with Santa and Dan Jones


UNC Launches Two Programs to Aid Military Members

UNC announced two initiatives to help veterans navigate the sometimes complicated path into higher education.

Jim Gregory is the Director of Media Relations at UNC, but he is also a veteran of the US military and says announcements like the one made on Wednesday make him very proud.

“When you’re in the military, you’re thinking of ‘What’s the mission? What do I need to be doing to make sure that I’m doing my job?’ but stepping outside of that can be scary,” Gregory says. “This provides two concrete initiatives to help active-duty navigate this higher education process.”

The two initiatives are the hiring of a Student Veteran Assistance Coordinator at Carolina and the launch of a new program – UNC Core.

“That program is really a [UNC] system-wide initiative, but it’s led by [UNC] Chapel Hill. And it’s designed to accelerate higher-education opportunities for active-duty military in North Carolina,” Gregory says. “It involves self-paced and summer-based courses that take advantage of what’s already available out there.

“But it packages it in a way that helps them satisfy their general education requirements.”

Gregory says this is viewed as the first step for veterans who are not able to come to class on campus to complete a four-year degree online.

He adds the newly created position will provide a singular point of contact for veterans who are taking courses.

“That is a position that will report to the Dean of Students. It’ll be filled this summer. They’re looking at candidates now,” Gregory says. “That person will work with others within the dean’s office, around the university, state, [and] local organizations to help veterans navigate the higher education process.

“It’s not always easy to know what’s out there [and] what’s available. And I can speak as a veteran myself, it’s a complex environment.”

The goal of the initiatives is to streamline the communication and accessibility for veterans to migrate into higher education.

The UNC Core program is open to all military members and will be housed in the Friday Center for Continuing Education. More information on that program is available here.

These initiatives are in addition to programs already in place for veterans at UNC including online MBA programs, physician assistant degrees, and the Warrior Scholarship Project.


Price: On VA Scandal, A Long Way Yet To Go

Last Friday, Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki tendered his resignation amidst a growing scandal involving long wait times—and cover-ups of those wait times—at VA hospitals nationwide.

But will Shinseki’s resignation actually accomplish anything? How adequate is our government’s commitment to our veterans? How high is the quality of treatment in the VA system in general? And what are the next steps, to address what appears to be a widespread problem?

Congressman David Price (D-Chapel Hill) joined Aaron Keck on the Afternoon News this week to discuss the issue.

David Price is a member of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee. Immediately following Shinseki’s resignation, he issued the following statement:

I remain deeply troubled by the irresponsible and unacceptable scheduling practices uncovered by the VA Inspector General’s preliminary report. I respect Secretary Shinseki’s decision to resign and hope it will allow Congress to act on the IG’s complete report, without delay or distraction, to fix the problems and hold those responsible accountable.

I expect the VA’s review to be proactive, not reactive. The VA needs to look at all of its processes, from top to bottom, from the time veterans walk in the door until their treatment is complete, to ensure they are receiving timely, quality care. Obsolete systems and processes need to be identified and replaced, and personnel levels must be commensurate with the needs of our nation’s veteran population. I will work to ensure my subcommittee is a partner in overseeing and funding the effort to meet the needs of a 21st century VA. Anything less would be a disservice to veterans and to the many exemplary VA employees who care for those who have served our country.


U.S. Labor Sec’y: Funds Needed For Unemployed Vets

CHAPEL HILL – The nationwide unemployment rate is slowly dropping but still high, a trend that also applies to specific demographic groups, including America’s veterans.

Now, with budget season already upon us, Acting U.S. Labor Secretary Seth Harris says the Obama administration is calling for more than $350 million in additional federal funding for veterans’ services—including several programs designed to get former service members into jobs.

“(The President is) investing an additional $100 million in the U.S. Department of Labor so that we can help these transitioning service members and veterans and their spouses, and National Guard and Reserve, get into good, reliable, middle-class jobs,” Harris said Wednesday on the WCHL Evening News with Aaron Keck.

The President’s proposal includes an extra $38 million for veterans’ employment representatives across the country; a $5 million increase in the federal Transition Assistance Program for veterans exiting active duty; and perhaps most notably, an extra $50 million for the Workforce Innovation Fund.

“This community faces barriers that a lot of other folks don’t face,” says Harris. “A lot of people in the civilian world don’t know what a military occupational specialty prepares you to do in civilian life…so there are a lot of challenges that this community faces.

“We need new ideas…so we’re going to put that money out there, challenge the workforce investment system and community colleges and other enterprises to get in the game (and) help us figure out these problems–and then we’ll scale them up across the country if they’re successful.”

Of course nothing is certain in Washington, especially with an ongoing budget crunch—but as for the politics of it all, Harris says he’s confident the two parties can at least come together around veterans’ affairs.

“My experience in Washington has been that the partisan divide that’s so prominent right now is often traversed…when it comes to helping veterans and transitioning service members and military families,” he says.

At the end of 2012, the overall unemployment rate for veterans was 7.0 percent, down from 8.3 percent in 2011. For post-9/11 vets, the rate was much higher: 9.9 percent in 2012, down from 12.1 percent the previous year.