Armando Garcia commits to helping all student veterans find their way through college
Student of the Week: Armando Garcia
Looking to send a message to fellow veterans this Veterans Day, Armando Garcia says he believes they all have the potential to be great leaders in their community. Often times it just takes the right motivation and the right school to make their goals come to life.
A veteran of the US Navy, Armando said he utilized his VA benefits to start college at South Texas College more than three years ago. While here, he said he had the opportunity to work with veterans on campus to breathe life into the Student Veterans Association and begin helping others on their educational goals.
“So we're helping our brothers and sisters understand their benefits and assisting with outreach that in turn made them more receptive to joining the SVA,” Armando said. “I would go to all of these leadership summits, and then everything I learned there I began implementing it here.
“It's great because veterans have other veterans to turn to. That is the biggest thing,” he said.
Now after three years, Armando says he has received his associate degree in social work and will now be receiving his bachelor degree in organizational leadership by January.
Currently employed as a local test administrator with the US Department of Defense, the supervisory agency of the Armed Forces, Armando said he hopes to continue on a full-time basis with the DOD once he completes his degree.
“Realistically for me, it has been the satisfaction of seeing veterans that when I engaged with them in the beginning, they were either unsure about what was next, or just really having a tough time with transitioning. Seeing some of these guys who have flourished and who are still in it, who are still fighting the good fight is really rewarding.
“I would encourage all veterans to understand that there are still educational benefits out there if you decide to come back,” Armando said.
“Veterans are often uninformed when it comes to their benefits, and 22 commit suicide every day,” he said quoting statistics by the Veterans Administration that in 2013 released a study saying that one veteran takes their life every 65 minutes on a daily basis. “Maybe by going to college, that can change.”
STC and its Office of Student Veteran Affairs are dedicated to serving veterans, active military, reservists, spouses, and dependents in meeting their educational goals. STC/SVA Chapter also provides an added advantage and influence when advocating for veterans on campus or in the local community.
The SVA office at Pecan Campus contains a lab and lounge area as well as an additional study room, referred to as the Foxhole at its Pecan, Mid-Valley, and Starr County campuses to provide a quiet study area and lab for veterans and dependents.
“Realistically for me, it has been the satisfaction of seeing veterans that when I engaged with them in the beginning, they were either unsure about what was next, or just really having a tough time with transitioning,” Armando said. “Seeing some of these guys who have flourished and who are still in it, who are still fighting the good fight is really rewarding.
“The most gratifying part is helping. Helping others helps me because I deal with my own demons and battles as well. So yeah, I think that's the biggest satisfying thing.”