Veteran graduates college

Veteran finds path forward

Elise Hamner Alumni, Veterans

It’s not easy for veterans to come back to regular life at home.

When Eric Gleason left the U.S. Navy in 2007, he went to work in a casino. Then he worked as a welder until he hurt his shoulder. Unable to work, he was super depressed. His wife (then girlfriend) told him to go to school.

“I really struggled in high school,” Eric said. “I had the mindset that college wasn’t something I could do.”

Meeting a veteran’s advocate

Then he sat down with Shana Brazil in SWOCC’s veterans service office. She pushed him to use his college benefit. And, since he is a combat veteran, SWOCC gave him a two-year tuition waiver.

“Eric is one of my vets, I will always hold dear,” Shana said.

That was in 2009. Eric took classes. Some were at night and most online. It gave him time to be with his baby daughter. Before long, he was working in the veterans office as a work study student.

“I realized I was actually pretty good at school,” Eric said.

Fast forward 9 years

As he was graduating with his two-year degree, he found he wanted to learn more. He worked with SWOCC’s University Center and soon enrolled at Oregon State University. Eric graduated with a bachelor’s degree, but decided he wasn’t done learning.

Eric now has his doctoral degree. He works at Coos Health & Wellness in a program that helps people with severe mental illness. He credits SWOCC and the veterans office with giving him the solid foundation he needed to succeed.

“Shana saw something in me that no one else had seen. I owe a great deal of my success to the support she was able to give me,” Eric said.

Are you a veteran? Do you want to train for a job or career? Meet with our veteran’s services coordinator and find a path forward.