Members of our military have a place to go when they want to figure out what to do with the rest of their lives upon leaving active duty.

Keystone College in LaPlume recently unveiled its new “Dog Tags to Desktops” program, which officials say is designed specifically to inform and advise local veterans on how they can best use the benefits they have accrued under the G.I. Bill to help plan for and lead a productive and meaningful life.

“Keystone College was initially founded by the parents of returning Civil War soldiers, so we have always had this history at our institution,” said campus coordinator of veteran services Wendy Kramer. “As Pennsylvania is one of the top states for military recruitment, it’s imperative that with the drawdown of troops, veterans and active service members know how to gain access to a college education, continue their education or have the opportunity to revisit their job opportunities in an effort to ease their transition back into the civilian life.”

Dog Tags to Desktops serves both veterans and their family members with career services and college exploration so that they maximize their G.I. Bill benefits. A similar program at Marywood University in Scranton complements Keystone’s program by allowing veterans to take non-credit courses before they enroll in a full-fledged degree program.

“We believe that veterans may not be clear about the benefits associated with the services available to them,” Kramer said. “My son is a veteran and I realize that they are given information after deployments, etc. but until they have the time to really settle back into civilian life, many are not sure where to turn next or may simply not be accustomed to turning to services within their community for assistance.”

Dog Tags to Desktops was made possible through statewide grant support from Pennsylvania Campus Contact (PACC) and AmeriCorps VISTA. According to Keystone College, there are more than 13,000 veterans in the area served by Keystone College.

Together with our community partners, such as the Veteran Directors within the counties we plan to serve, we will identify potential participants and host informative workshops within their communities regarding educational, employment and potentially health care services available,” Kramer said. “Returning to the classroom can be difficult for some veterans because they might have different needs and concerns than younger students. We offer a variety of support and one-on-one counseling to help meet their specific needs.”

Dog Tags to Desktops is a three-year renewable grant and the college hopes to expand its service area. The program also offers assistance with transitional housing.

“Our soldiers and veterans support our country each and every day,” Kramer said. “At Keystone, we’re proud to do everything we can to help support them as they pursue the next important steps in their lives.”

For more information on Dog Tags to Desktops, visit keystone.edu.