Veterans at Weatherford College looking for mentorship, comradery with fellow veterans or just a place to sit and drink a cup of coffee now have a place of their own.
The new Veterans Center is located on the south side of the Student Services Building second floor. A sign with an American flag on it is attached to the front glass door to catch the eye of those walking past. Inside veterans will find a lounge complete with snacks, coffee maker, a mini fridge to store small items and three computers solely for their use.
The office of Ralph Willingham, WC’s Director of Admissions and Veterans Coordinator, is also located in the center along with administrative assistant Tammy Peters.
“Before the move I had an office and Tammy had a desk and that was it,” Willingham said. “There was no coming together between the veterans. Now they have a place to come and relax.”
Rusty Young, a 21-year Marine Corps veteran, is a regular in the new center. It is his first semester at WC, and he plans to complete his associate’s degree in the spring. His wife, Julia, is also taking classes at WC.
“Isn’t it weird, we retired and went to college,” Young asked rhetorically. “But I’ve seen a lot of people retire, and they stop using their brain and it’s like they die early. I want to keep my brain active.”
The Veterans Center provides Young a calm atmosphere between classes and he enjoys visiting with Willingham, Peters and the other veterans who visit the center.
“Veterans are not usually the 19-year-old who just finished high school,” Young said. “Veterans have shared experiences that are different from that age group. This is a place where you can come to work with other vets. Plus the staff, all of the WC staff, is very pro-military which I’m not used to. I can’t say enough about the staff. Anything a veteran needs, they make it happen.”
The center is open during normal business hours and sees an average of five to 10 veterans each day. Willingham hopes that number increases as awareness of the center grows.
Top photo: Ralph Willingham and Tammy Peters are available to assist veterans on the Weatherford College campus.
Bottom photo: Rusty Young drinks coffee in the Veteran's Center at Weatherford College.