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Saturday, December 2, 2023


Veterans receive assistance, info

Student-veterans at UH received a host of information, ranging from ways to start a small business to the various options available when buying land or a home at an event on Tuesday.

The “Entrepreneurship, Education and the 21st Century Veteran” seminar was organized by technology senior Stephen Cremona, a veteran and a work-study counselor with UH’s Veterans Service Office.

“We have presenters come out, and they can actually give you the current facts as opposed to going to a website,” Cremona said. “They give you good advice. They give you knowledge.”

Neil Polansky, from the City of Houston One Stop Business Center, discussed entrepreneurship and what it takes to open a small business.

He said that some people do not realize the effort and knowledge needed to open a business, such as permits, rules and regulations and the evaluation of the marketplace and competition.

“There’s no excuse for people going into a business without being educated,” Polansky said. “We’re here to provide information to help you make an informed decision for yourself.”

Dan Monson, a mortgage banker with Sente Mortgage, spoke about eligibility requirements and ways to save money when purchasing a house with the VA home loan. He also discussed what to look for when picking an area to buy a home, such as area schools, home values and neighbors.

Mike McReaken of the Texas Veterans Land Board talked about the various ways that the board can help when searching for the American dream of owning a home. He discussed how their program differs from the VA and how their programs can be used in conjunction with other agency’s programs.

Rodney Johnson and Everett Curl from the Boys and Girls Clubs also presented at the seminar.

Johnson talked to the veterans about the opportunities there are in mentoring. He said that Houston youth need mentors to help guide them to success.

Johnson’s colleague Curl cited a 53 percent drop-out rate in Houston when he encouraged student-veterans to become mentors.

“Studies have found that the kids can graduate, but they need mentors,” Curl said. “They need positive people in their lives.”

VSO Program Director Allen Grundy said the seminar was the first of what the VSO plans on making a regular occurrence. The department plans on bringing guests to talk to veterans about the many resources available to them on a monthly basis.

“In 2010, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that the unemployment rate for veterans was 8.7 percent,” Grundy said. “You don’t want to sit around and become a statistic. That’s why we have this program; to give you some ideas about what kind of things are out there.”

Grundy and Cremona said that veterans getting out of the military sometimes become lost in translation. They want to put on programs such as this to help inform veterans on things they think they may know about, but in actuality might not.

Students can visit the VSO at the University Center in Room 268 or call (832) 842-5490 for more information.

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