Our veterans know a thing or two about honor. So do this year’s Veterans Day Fun Run participants. The seventh annual event will go on, despite COVID-19’s best efforts to cancel anything and everything in its path (pun intended), but the run will take place virtually, holding participants to the honor system.
“We are asking participants to walk or run in their neighborhoods, local parks, or in their homes,” said Robert Dorsett, Student Services Manager, Veterans Services, and event organizer.
While Estrella Mountain Community College’s (EMCC) campus remains closed to the public, the city of Avondale took up the reins for the Warrior’s Breakfast and Veterans Day Ceremony, which traditionally follow the 5K on the Avondale campus. Both events will take place this year at Avondale City Hall, 11465 Civic Center Drive.
The virtual 5K will kick off at 7:30 a.m. on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, and the breakfast will begin at 8:45 a.m. followed by the ceremony at 9 a.m.
The registration fee for veterans is $11.11 and general registration is $25. The registration fee includes breakfast. Visit https://www.estrellamountain.edu/vetfunrun to register.
All net proceeds will directly support the Veterans Increasing Persistence Program (VIPP). The program is designed to assist veterans in financial situations that may prevent them from going to school or completing a degree.
“VIPP funds help students during emergencies, such as an unexpected car repair,” Dorsett said.
Dorsett, a Marine Corps veteran, enrolled at EMCC in 2011 after serving five years on active duty. He was hired by the college’s Veterans Services office in 2012 as a work-study student. At that time, the office was about the size of a broom closet, and its services were limited to helping veterans with their VA tuition benefits. With no advisor in the office, students would stand in line for hours to speak with an advisor and get their classes only to return to the office and find out their G.I. Bill wouldn’t cover certain classes.
“They’d have to stand in line all over again to change their classes,” Dorsett said. “It was very frustrating.”
A short time later, Veterans Services began expanding and Dorsett was able to share some of the pitfalls he had experienced while navigating the enrollment process. The new and improved Veterans Services Center opened in 2013 with expanded services including a designated advisor. Dorsett was hired as a Veterans Services Specialist Senior and later as the Veterans Services Center Manager.
Today, the Center serves as a one-stop-shop for veterans, helping military members, veterans, and military/veteran dependent students take advantage of numerous educational opportunities as well as providing transition support and connection to local community veteran resources.
“This is seriously a one-stop shop,” said Tonia Smith, an Air Force veteran and EMCC graduate. “I could come here and ask questions about things like buying a house and military-related things like disability and education. This place is awesome!”
To learn more about the Veterans Services Center, go to https://www.estrellamountain.edu/students/veterans-services.