Veteran services

Decorated Veteran leads MHCC’s dedicated Veteran Services team

Joshua Ray.

In recognition of Veterans Day on Nov. 11, Advocate introduces some veterans and the services provided to them at Mt. Hood Community College.

Appropriately, the Veterans Services office in the main mall on the Gresham campus is run by coordinator Joshua Ray, who is a decorated U.S. Army veteran with a combat tour of Iraq. He is no stranger to danger.

To give you a little more background on Ray, we have to travel back in time to 2003, when America declared war on the Iraqi regime of dictator Saddam Hussein. This happened after the September 11 terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers in New York. Suspecting Hussein of possessing weapons of mass destruction, President George W. Bush ordered the invasion and occupation of Iraq by US armed forces, which led to Saddam’s eventual capture.

Ray spent the last year of his five years in the military stationed in Iraq. Previously, he spent most of his career with the 101st Air Assault Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky (home of the Screaming Eagles). He was also an airborne paratrooper and spent his combat deployment in 2003 with the 4th Infantry Division at Fort Hood, Texas.

Currently, Ray leads the four-person team that does everything in its power to care for veterans at Mt. Hood – primarily to keep them in school, but also to provide services to help veterans. embedded in other aspects of their lives.

“We’re creating a holistic approach to help veterans with their training,” Ray said when asked what the MHCC does for returning combat veterans. “We go the extra mile to help our vet students achieve their goals and help them succeed,” he said other colleges might not follow.

For veterans attending MHCC who have serious issues such as PTSD, Ray said Mt. even if it wasn’t the law, we’d be doing what we can for them.

“We try to provide them with services through our Office of Accessible Education. Whether the student needs sign language or a profile to take walks for our students diagnosed with PTSD…whatever it is, we are here to help and assist,” Ray said.

When asked why he works so hard to help vets, Ray replied, “I serve those who have served us,” meaning veterans who have served and sacrificed for our freedoms and for ensure our safety.

Next on the Mt. Hood veteran team is Heather Mitchoff, whose job is to integrate the veteran student into the school system and develop a special education plan.

The Student Success Specialist for Veterans has been with the MHCC for three years and assists and advises the student veteran on the various majors and programs offered at the college. She also handles all paperwork to comply with the Army’s GI Bill and other rules pertaining to Veterans Education Benefits.

Amy Sievert has worked at the MHCC for 12 years in various departments, but now enjoys working for Veterans Services. Coming from a long list of family members who served in the military during her lifetime, she said she feels a duty to those who have honorably served our county.

“I’m a big student advocate, I advocate for all students, but I specialize in veterans,” Sievert said. “If there is a problem with the student, I will do what I can to resolve the student’s problem and if I cannot, I will get back to the student promptly with a solution.”

The most important part of veteran students and their education is the funding part. Sievert ensures that the veteran’s education costs are paid on time and that his living and housing money is processed on time. It also informs them of all the grants available to them. If there are financial questions like grants, bursaries and student loans, she is the one to go to.

Sievert also offers classes for all Mt. Hood students to inform them of upcoming grants, FAFSA applications, loan reductions or remission, etc.

She encouraged anyone in contact with a veteran to refer them to the Mt. Hood team.

“If our veterans feel lost or confused, please contact us. The help and support is there,” she said.

Newest to the MHCC office is Outreach and Success Specialist Derek Hanley, who will work to recruit more veterans to campus. The decorated combat paramedic spent four years on active duty in the U.S. Air Force and then another five in the Army National Guard assigned to the 42nd Infantry Division in upstate New York .

Hanley added appropriate thoughts for all in the run up to Veterans Day:

“I want to thank all veterans for their service and sacrifice…and thank all dependents and family members for their support of our veterans.”