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By Nathaniel Petraitis. November 13, 2017 - 9:12 am
Retired U.S. Navy senior chief and Hawaii Pacific University (HPU) alumni continues service at school’s Veterans Affairs (VA) Center.
The first faces many veterans see when starting at HPU, are those of VA Director Thomas Flores and his staff. They oversee the program that ensures veterans, service members and their families educational benefits are taken care of.
While serving 23 years in the navy, Flores completed his bachelor’s and his master’s degrees at HPU. The accomplishment was made possible through his military benefits to include the GI Bill.
Within two weeks of retiring, Flores began working for HPU. He now assists others with completing goals similar to his. Referencing his personal use of military and VA education benefits to attend HPU, Flores said, “This helps with understanding the GI Bill and understanding the education system here.”
The VA center is an integral part of veteran’s academic lives. The office empowers veterans in reaching their educational goals through the funding of tuition, classes, books and housing.
As director, Flores is responsible for the overall management of all the veterans attending the school. No small feat as he says, “There is about 15 percent of the HPU population using GI Bill right now.”
Flores remembers a time when U.S. Navy ships used to dock at Aloha Tower for monthly visits. He finds it ironic that his life leads him back to where his own education began. Flores added “I would have never thought that where I was at for one of the biggest points in my career, that I would be later working there.”