"My veterans' counselor, a fellow veteran, assisted me with everything from the application process to using my GI Bill benefits."
For this Bronx native, the transition from a war zone halfway across the world to academia was made easier by the Office of Veterans Affairs at Monroe. Odonis Velez found the professors and faculty at Monroe always welcoming and accommodating.
“My veterans’ counselor, a fellow veteran, assisted me with everything from the application process to using my GI Bill benefits,” he says.
Before coming to Monroe, Odonis served nine years in the United States Marines Corp. He was deployed in Indonesia and Bosnia, where he was involved in the rescue of an American naval flight officer. Still, he found that going back to school was challenging. “Here I am, a vet, considered a hero, and now I’m with kids just out of high school!” he recalls. Fortunately, Monroe has one of the largest veteran populations of any school in the area. “I enjoyed flashing my service member card and could easily find a fellow veteran to chat or study with.”
While at Monroe, Odonis had an internship at the Juvenile Delinquency Center in the Bronx. He graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor's degree in criminal justice in 2008. These days, he's a security officer in the Department of Safety and Security at the United Nations. In addition, he was selected to serve as an Honor Guard, a prestigious position at the UN in which he escorts heads of state and dignitaries throughout the building.