Arizona college hires reservist to oversee veterans issues at school

By CAROL ANN ALAIMO | The Arizona Daily Star (MCT) | Published: September 20, 2014

TUCSON, Ariz. — Pima Community College has hired a senior master sergeant with the Air Force Reserve to help make things right for student veterans at the school.

Daniel Kester will earn $80,000 a year in the newly-created post of director of veterans and military affiliated services.

As such, he'll be responsible for preventing the kind of problems that led state and federal authorities to temporarily ban veterans from enrolling at PCC earlier this year.

“In creating this position, we are ensuring that our student veterans consistently receive the best possible administrative services,” PCC Chancellor Lee Lambert said in a news release this week.

The enrollment ban occurred in March after the college failed for two years straight to keep accurate records for students receiving veterans education benefits.

The mistakes left scores of veterans facing a federal debt collector after tens of thousands of aid dollars were dispensed in error.

Faulty record-keeping isn't the only problem student veterans have faced at PCC.

A support center for veterans, which the college set up in 2011 at a cost of $30,000, was so poorly planned it had to be scrapped. It was replaced this year at a cost of $77,000.

One factor identified in past problems was that PCC employees who oversaw student veterans had no military experience themselves.

That won’t be the case with Kester, who’s expected to start work at the college next month pending approval of PCC’s Governing Board.

He served on active duty from 1977 to 1988, in the Air National Guard from 2006 to 2012 and now is a superintendent at the 612th Air and Space Operations Center at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, the college's news release said.

He’s also been a career counselor at the University of Arizona, a volunteer with a support group for military reservists and has worked in career and technical education at Tucson Unified School District.

©2014 The Arizona Daily Star (Tucson, Ariz.) Distributed by MCT Information Services

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