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Combat veterans finding educational, healthcare,
and family benefits through
ASU's Beck PRIDE Center
16, 2009 -- J.B.’s pursuit of an athletic career was
interrupted when he suffered combat injuries while serving in Iraq with
the U.S. Army. While in rehabilitation at Brooks Army Medical Center,
his wife and his case manager encouraged him to pursue his goal of
becoming a college football coach.
researching his options, he learned about a new program at Arkansas
State University in Jonesboro that offers services to help injured
veterans complete a college education.
“I did the homework and footwork to find out if Arkansas State was the
best option for my family because it meant relocating my wife and small
children from Arizona,” J. B. told the Beck PRIDE Center staff at ASU.
Despite the move and associated adjustments for him and his family, he
looks back a year later with a positive outlook about the challenges he
met and faced, saying “ . . .it is a challenge that I would recommend
any veteran to take on who has a goal where you need higher education to
achieve it. Every college should have a program on its campus that
supports student-veterans, like the Beck PRIDE Center.”
J. B. (full name withheld for privacy) is just one of approximately 130
veterans who are or have been clients of the Beck Center during its
first 18 months of operation at Arkansas State University.
The needs of thousands of combat veterans like J. B. are what inspired
concept founders Buddy and Charlotte Beck of Fairfax Station, Va., to
provide initial funding for a center that could provide unmet veterans’
needs in a university setting. Their dream is coming true through the
Beck PRIDE Center at the couple’s alma mater.
When the Becks first discussed their idea in 2007 with Chancellor Robert
L. Potts at ASU-Jonesboro, they described veterans’ needs that were not
being met through conventional military sources. As conversations
progressed with Dr. Potts and other university officials, a plan for a
center that would provide for Personal Rehabilitation, Individual
Development and Education (PRIDE) began to develop.
When the center was established, the Becks commented,
thrilled with the way Arkansas State University is making our vision a
reality through the work of the Beck PRIDE Center. Arkansas State
University has meant so much to both of us over the years. This was one
way we could show our appreciation in a tangible way that will also
benefit those who have sacrificed in service to our great country."
Through a very
generous gift to the university, the Becks provided the initial funding
to launch the Beck PRIDE Center, with aspirations of turning the center
into a model that could be replicated at universities throughout the
ASUJ took a major step in this direction by
co-sponsoring the State of Arkansas Veterans Symposium for Higher
Education, conducted by Gov. Mike Beebe’s Yellow Ribbon Task Force, on
best practices for serving veterans on campus. Personnel from colleges
and universities throughout the state attended the Boots 2 Books
conference, June 24-25 in Little Rock.
all branches of the military are eligible to receive services. The
center, housed in the College of Nursing and Health Professions, has
attracted veterans from a multi-state region.
Additionally, counseling and other services will be available for
veterans' family members. "The college campus is a perfect place to host
this type of program and ASU-Jonesboro is well suited for it," Potts has
noted. “We are so grateful for the Becks’ generosity and their visionary
ambition to serve those who have served to protect our country’s
Center Mission and Objectives
PRIDE Center’s mission is to provide combat-wounded veterans with first
class educational programs and important re-integration services to help
prepare them for post-service careers. Some of those services include:
-- Access to the higher
Resources for counseling and treatment for mental health issues;
Resources for financial assistance
enrichment, networking and community service opportunities.
Program participants have access to career counseling, skills or
placement testing, and an academic advisor to assist with the
development of a plan of study. Services are designed to supplement, not
duplicate, federal and state government resources.
Susan Tonymon, Beck Center director, explained, “This program is unique
in that it provides individual attention and ‘one-stop shopping’ for the
injured veteran and his or her family in a nurturing environment where
one counselor works with each veteran to address or obtain assistance on
all issues facing the veteran or family.”
The clients who praise the center are helping contribute to the
development of its national reputation as one of the top
military-friendly campuses in the country.
In fact, in late 2008, the Wal-Mart Foundation identified ASU-Jonesboro
as one of the top 10 universities in the country for best practices in
programs for student-veteran education programs and services. The
designation came with a $100,000 grant to further support the Beck
The chairman of the Beck PRIDE Center’s National Advisory Board, Maj.
Gen. Elder Granger, also is an ASU alumnus and is retiring as deputy
director and chief operating officer of TRICARE Management Activity. At
the time of the center’s founding, he commented, "Every generation has
produced a group of patriots willing to serve a cause greater than
themselves. The PRIDE program validates the gratitude of a nation for
serving Americans and this group of patriots."
Life after Battle
veteran who comes to the
Center has unique personal circumstances and individual needs. E4
Specialist Julio Mendoza, who served as a combat medic with the 875th
Engineer Battalion, is back home in the U.S. and majoring in nursing at
ASU. He described one of his challenges, readjusting to life in a calmer
environment after serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“You’re still amped, you’re still energized, and it’s very difficult to
realize that you no longer need to be afraid,” Mendoza said. The Beck
Center has helped make the adjustment easier by giving him step by step
guidance to receive the assistance that he needed for successful
Because the Beck PRIDE Center serves both active duty and discharged
combat veterans, Tonymon explained a special benefit to those still on
“People are sometimes worried about information ending up in their
service record and subsequently having an adverse effect on them or
their family or their military status,” she explained. Other than
mandatory reporting requirements covering situations like threats to
harm oneself or others, domestic violence or child abuse, information
collected at the
is “private and confidential.”
Advisory Council Members
the Beck PRIDE Center National Advisory Council are Maj. Gen. Elder
Granger, chairman, Maj. Gen. William Wofford, Maj. Gen. George Barker,
Maj. Gen. George Simmons, Brig. Gen. Thomas Davis, Brig. Gen. Jimmy
Norris, LTG(R) Theodore G. Stroup Jr., Col. Jerry Bowen (Ret.),
Mrs. Charlotte Beck, Mrs. Rosalie Barber, Mr. David Olive, Mr. George
Westmoreland, and Mr. Thom Welborn.
Arkansas State University
State University, founded in 1909, offers associate’s, bachelor’s,
master’s, specialist’s and doctoral degree programs through its academic
colleges: Agriculture and Technology, Business, Communications,
Education, Engineering, Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences,
Nursing and Health Professions, Science and Mathematics, and University
College. Courses also are offered through The Honors College and the
independent Department of Military Science.
Graduate and undergraduate enrollment at ASU-Jonesboro was 11,490 in the
fall of 2008. Jonesboro is a city of approximately 60,000 residents and
serves as an educational, medical and retail center in Northeast
Beck PRIDE Center:
Announcement of grant from Wal-Mart:
Announcement of Beck gift:
Susan Tonymon’s appointment to
Ribbon Task Force: