EDISON, NJ - The Willard T.C. Johnson Foundation has renewed a grant to fund the Middlesex County College Center for Veterans Services for three more years. The three-year grant from the Willard T.C. Johnson Foundation is for $450,000. The foundation originally funded the center in 2011.

“Military veterans face numerous challenges when they re-integrate into civilian life,” said Dave Brimmer, the center’s director. “We’re there to help so they can access the benefits they have earned: educational, financial, mental health and medical.”

The Center for Veterans Services has helped solve more than 5,600 concerns for nearly 500 students since its inception.

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“The Center for Veterans Services is a welcoming place for all military-affiliated students,” said Lauren Howard, foundation program officer. “Dave and his staff have done an excellent job in creating the center and making sure it serves student-vets adequately. We are proud to be able to support our military veterans as they transition to the next phase of their lives.”

Bill Traeger, an Army veteran who served from 1984 to 1988, started at MCC in 1990 but left after two years. He re-enrolled in the spring of 2013 and is graduating this month.

“If it wasn’t for the Center for Veterans Services, I don’t know if I would have stuck it out,” he said. “It’s a supportive mechanism.”

In just three years after being established thanks to the first Johnson Foundation grant, the center helped MCC be named as “military-friendly” by two national media companies. The College was named to Victory Media’s list two years in a row, and Military Advanced Education awarded Middlesex County College the designation of a Top Military-Friendly College in its 2014 guide.

Brimmer said, “The focus of the center is on assisting with the transition from the military back to civilian life through college, and making sure military-affiliated students use the educational benefits to which they are entitled effectively, both at Middlesex and at a four-year school after graduation.”

The center serves as a liaison between veterans and college departments, as well as a place for veterans to relax between classes.

“We are the hub for veterans on campus,” he said. “We can address all of their questions in one place and that is important.”

“We are grateful to the Foundation for supporting the center,” said College President Joann La Perla-Morales. “Veterans are an important part of the fabric of Middlesex County College. We have always welcomed and supported them. I am so thankful that the Willard T.C. Johnson Foundation has renewed the support. It will help make veterans’ experiences at MCC richer and more rewarding.”