ASU Veterans Upward Bound federal funding is renewed

The program's U.S. Department of Education TRIO grant was renewed earlier in November

ASU’s Veterans Upward Bound Project had its U.S. Department of Education grant renewed in November, funding the veterans assistance program for the next five years. 

ASU VUB has been at the University for over 45 years with offices on all four main campuses. The free program has services for veterans like academic coaching, assistance with admissions to any university, and financial literacy.

“We give them all the resources needed and we set them up for success,” Gusse said. important because it has been around for so long.`

“We have existed here at ASU for over 45 years — that’s why it’s a big deal, because it’s been here for so long, and it’s a part of the ASU institution,” Gusse said. “So, the U.S. Department of Education decided to fund our program for another five years.”

She said the program's grant is up for renewal every five years and that they reapplied this past September. 

The VUB program at ASU is the only one in the nation that's entirely federally funded, Gusse said. 

“So this is exciting for us because we’ve been given another five-year slot to continue to do the work that we’ve been doing," she said.

VUB helps veterans get acclimated to being back home. Through a series of academic placement tests, these veterans also receive assistance for the college application process. 

“We give them all the resources needed and we set them up for success,” Gusse said.

U.S. Coast Guard veteran Chris Bilandzija, one of the program’s participants, entered the program in the spring of 2016 and will be studying social work at ASU next spring.

After returning to the U.S., Bilandzija fell into homelessness and battled a substance abuse problem and symptoms of a traumatic brain injury from his time overseas. He said VUB was essential for him to get his life back in order.

“Through the VA and Veterans Court, I found my way into Veterans Upward Bound to pursue higher education,” Bilandzija said. 

He said VUB helped him connect with other veterans as well as opportunities for higher education, which is one of his greatest accomplishments after serving.

Andrew Petrie, a secondary education senior and the president of ASU’s Student Veterans Association, served in the U.S. Marine Corps for four years. He said that once he got back from service, he needed to adjust to being a civilian. Services like these help to facilitate that transition.

“It always feels good to help other people and be proud of your community as a whole," Petrie said. "You’re essentially building each other up as you do it.”

Gusse, the VUB program director, said the project is essential for supporting veterans and making sure that they get back into school.

“When I got out of service, I was very naïve to what education was all about, and the VUB program (in California) helped me through my bachelors degree and then I went out and got my masters,” Gusse said. “I don’t think I would have been able to do any of that if it wasn’t for the support I received.”

The program recruits veterans that were honorably discharged and have served for more than 180 days. 

“It’s not difficult to get into the program," Gusse said. "It’s just a matter of bringing them in here.”  

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