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"At-Ease" Training: Understanding and Supporting Our Veterans
Faculty and staff from all academic disciplines • Disabled Student Services Program Staff • College Veteran Program Coordinators • Instructors and Coordinators of Student Success Programs • Counselors and Staff from all Student Service Programs • Outreach and Retention Specialists • Human Resources staff • Employers/Supervisors • Veterans and Family members • Community Service Agencies servicing veterans
"At Ease" within military culture means to take on a relaxed position from an alert state of readiness. Veterans are trained quite thoroughly to be vigilant and prepared, but they are rarely afforded the tools or education to stand down. As national and global conflicts deescalate and veterans make their transition back into civilian life, the number of veterans in college courses and in our employment ranks will continue to increase. Assistance from educators and community members is integral to their success. Please join us as we share information and best practices that will help you understand and support the veterans around you.
"At Ease" inspires community, collaboration,
compassion, and camaraderie
Participants will receive an "At Ease" decal which will serve as a symbol to veterans and their families a "veteran friendly" environment.
Following the "At Ease" training, Sierra College will be celebrating the new location of our comprehensive Veterans Center with a Ribbon-cutting Ceremony at 12:30pm in the Library/Learning Resource Center (LR). Everyone is welcome to attend!
Presenters for At Ease Training will include:
Catherine Morris: M.S. Counselor Education
Catherine Morris is a Veterans Counselor and professor. Since joining Sierra College in 2001, she has provided counseling to over 7,000 veterans, guard, reservists, and their family members. She served a total of 15 years in the Marines, CA Army and Air National Guard. Catherine was responsible for coordinating the first "Road Home…From Combat to College and Beyond" symposium in 2007 and she was a co-developer of the Boots to Books learning communities.
As a leader in veteran advocacy, Catherine has presented dozens of workshops and webinars around the country, including the Roselyn Carter Symposium in Atlanta, the Office of Civil Rights and Dept of Education, CA Community Colleges Veteran Summits, military units, community, and veteran organizations on topics such as: combat stress, creating veteran friendly campuses, and military competencies. Catherine has developed extensive community partnerships with the VA, Vet Centers, and local veteran organizations. Additionally, she has testified before the CA State Veterans Affairs Committee, serves as a member of the CA Dept of Veterans Affairs Veterans Task Force, the Chancellor’s Office Advisory Group on Student Mental Health, and chairs the Veterans Task Force at Sierra College.
Catherine is responsible for creating a nationally recognized Veterans Resource program at Sierra College. She has been interviewed by National Public Radio,The Jim Lehrer Show, San Francisco Chronicle, Sacramento Bee, Sacramento News and Review, Auburn Journal, Tahoe Daily Tribute, KCBS-AM in San Francisco, KPFA-FM San Francisco, and numerous other newspapers.
Nicholas Zoffel, Ph.D.: Sierra College, Communication Studies
Nicholas Zoffel is a professor of Communication at Sierra College. He writes & teaches extensively about identity, popular culture, and veteran affairs in education; by exploring topics ranging from how membership shapes educational choices; veteran and student equity; critical consumption of media; and critical communication pedagogy.
His research and community engagement project (HaveStoryWillTell) focuses on how students share their understandings and performances of educational expectations as part of an academic community. He is a frequent guest via Skype in classrooms globally, with aims to make academia a more accessible space.
Jarrett Blake: Sierra College, Veteran Cadre Officer & Presenter
Jarrett Blake is an 11-year veteran of the United States Marine Corps. He enlisted in 1998 and was selected for avionics and became a radar technician. Although he has two tours in Iraq, Blake's most rewarding experience was supporting Operation Unified Assistance by providing humanitarian aid on the ground days after the tsunami devastated Southeast Asia. Blake's leadership and ability to connect on a personal level was recognized early by his superiors and he was placed as a Company Gunnery Sergeant with over two hundred marines in his charge. Blake practices and teaches the principle used in the Marines “to exhaust the body, quiets the mind." To this end, he has developed combat conditioning drills and built obstacle courses under the most extreme circumstances. Despite struggling with PTSD, Blake has found a sense of centering and peace in service, and he is dedicated to reaching out to his fellow veterans. After his honorable discharge in 2010, Blake immediately signed up for classes at Sierra College, using his Post 9/11 GI Bill. Blake is very familiar with the transitional challenges veterans face upon returning to community college, and as such, he is committed to carrying on his service in civilian life.
Additionally, Blake has co-presented numerous times and presented webinars for the CA Community College Chancellors’ Office, Rosalynn Carter Symposium in Atlanta, veteran organizations, and other colleges, on topics such as: combat stress, educational benefits, military competencies, and how to create a veteran friendly campus. Blake has been interviewed by National Public Radio, Sacramento Bee, and other newspapers.
Eric Theer: Sierra College, Veteran Cadre Officer & Presenter
Eric enlisted in the United States Air Force after graduating from high school in 2005. During his service at Beale AFB, he worked as a firefighter/EMT and was a primary instructor for fire engine training and hydraulics. Eric was deployed to Qatar in 2006-2007 and honorably discharged in 2009. Eric continued his EMT work for Sacramento and Placer Counties and served as an EMT for the American Medical Response during the BP Oil spill disaster.
Eric enrolled at Sierra College, seeking to expand his EMT skills. After meeting Catherine Morris, he was inspired to do more. Eric joined the Sierra College Veterans Cadre, became a Veterans Cadre Officer, and is currently working to provide exceptional support to all veterans while working toward a degree to become a physician assistant.
Daniel Avegalio: ARC Veterans Certifying Official
Daniel Avegalio is a Marine Corps veteran and certifying official at American River College. He got out the Marines in 2009 after serving three tours in Iraq. He immediately started to use his Post 9/11 GI bill at ARC and after some struggles finally graduated with his AA degree in Psychology. Following his graduation from ARC Daniel transferred to Sac State University and will be graduating in December with his B.A. in Sociology. Daniel will plan to continue his education and pursue his Master’s degree in Vocational Rehabilitation counseling starting in the Fall of 2014.
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