When George Turner left the Air Force, he found himself missing “meaningful work.” As the new Vet Corps navigator at Big Bend Community College, where Turner is studying computer science, he finds himself again doing something important — helping former members of the military make their way into and through college.
“It’s good to be in a position to help fellow vets,” he said.
A Russian linguist for more than 15 years, the 37-year-old Turner left the military earlier than he hoped because of an injury. An Air Force “brat,” he didn’t really have a home to return to, so he promised his wife — a native of Wenatchee — they’d settle someplace closer to her home.
He enrolled in the computer science program at Big Bend Community College because he liked “problem solving.” But he didn’t really find work that gave him a purpose until he started helping other vets.
“The term navigator is a fluffy term that means whatever I choose to make it,” he said. “What I’ve chosen to do is educate myself about all the programs open to veterans — federal, state, and local — that can help them get and complete an education.”
The Vet Corps program, which is currently funded by a grant from Americorps, is unique to Washington state, and Turner is one of only 50 statewide. The position is designed not just to help veterans navigate higher education, but also to educate college administrators about the special needs veterans have.