Western Nevada College launches veteran resource center

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Western Nevada College launches veteran resource center

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Cathleen Allison/Nevada Photo Source

Kevin Burns, advisor to the Western Nevada College Student Veterans Resource Center, speaks during a grand opening ceremony in Carson City on Wednesday.

While some student veterans at Western Nevada College in Carson City wait on the VA to process their disability claims, a new resource center is now providing them access to PTSD counseling on campus.

Kevin Burns, who supervises the college's veterans resource center, says the weekly counseling sessions help vets who are waiting on compensation or who would otherwise have to travel from Carson City to Reno for their counseling.

Back in 2007, student veterans started coming to Burns, an English instructor, with questions because they knew he was a retired Marine.

Since then, he's formed a club and now the resource center to help ease the transition from military to civilian life.

"Many veterans feel a loss of identity or they're feeling alone because one of the things that is ingrained in you in the military structure is you're always part of a team, whether it be a squad or a platoon or a company or a battalion. And that's your identity--that unit identity--and all of a sudden, you're lost without that."

Along with counseling, the resource center is building a library of textbooks for veterans to use at the beginning of each semester until their funding comes through and they can buy their books.

Burns says that next semester, the center will also offer a special orientation session for the 175 registered vets on campus, so they know they are supported.

"We never again want to see what happened to the Vietnam veterans when they came back, and that's what many of us are working for."

The VA reports that the national backlog on disability claims has shrunk from its peak of about 611,000 claims last March to about 405,000 today.

Right now in Reno, there are about 6,700 disability claims waiting to be processed, including more than 4,000 that are backlogged, meaning they have been pending for more than 125 days.