College Helping Provide Computers to Veterans

Virginia Peninsula Community College is partnering with Virginia’s Community Colleges (VCCS), the Virginia Department of Veterans Services and Tech For Troops to bring laptops to veterans.

Marc Vernon, VPCC’s director of Military and Veteran Services, explained the VCCS and the Virginia Department of Veterans Services joined forces to better serve military members and their families. He noted of 23 VCCS institutions, VPCC is among several to “opt-in” to a program called the Virginia Veteran Laptop Project (VVLP).

“This project will not only distribute free laptop computers to each participant (i.e., for their military-affiliated student population) but also connect the veteran service members and military families whom we (VCCS) serve,” Vernon said.

Tech for Troops, founded in 2014 and based in Richmond, handles cleaning the hard drives and other computer components for reuse to avoid compromising data.

“VPCC’s primary role in this project is to facilitate the distribution of laptops for our military-affiliated students in need,” Vernon said, adding he also is working with VPCC Information Technology’s Melissa Pettigrew and the IT team to initiate donating outdated/old computers, TVs, and other electronic devices to Tech for Troops. “Hopefully, we will operate both as a distribution and donation conduit at some point.”

In a March 28 visit to VPCC’s Hampton Campus, representatives from the Virginia Department of Veteran Services and Tech for Troops provided details about the partnership.

“The common goal of this project is to strengthen the relationship between VDVS, VCCS, and Tech For Troops, and enhance education, outreach, and development opportunities for our military-affiliated student population,” Vernon said.

VPCC has a little more than 1,600 military-affiliated students, which is about 26% of its enrollment.

A Virginia Veteran Laptop Project (VVLP) representative said many veterans don’t have access to laptops, and those who do don’t often know how to use them. The organization assists with that also. The group has provided almost 1,000 computers to active-duty service members, Reserve/Nationals Guard members, veterans, and their spouses, and has distributed 20 computers to every institution in the VCCS. They hope to include dependents in the fall.

It is not a loaner program; recipients can keep the computer even after they are done with classes. It’s also for workforce students, not just those enrolled in academic degree programs.

“We are excited to participate in this project and look forward to providing our military-affiliated students with these opportunities,” Vernon said.

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