Veterans Affairs Director Enjoys Trip to Bellevue University Campus
In Omaha for the National Association of State Directors of Veterans Affairs Annual Conference, Verdie Bowen had the opportunity to take a look at the campus of his alma mater, Bellevue University, for the first time. Bowen, an online student, completed his bachelor’s degree in Business Information Systems in 2005.
Today and for the last decade, Bowen is the Director of Veterans Affairs for the State of Alaska. Appointed by the governor, Bowen is charged with overseeing the services provided to veterans throughout the state. In Alaska, that covers 632,000 square miles and 348 communities. Bowen’s office is responsible for administering the 2,817 pages of combined federal regulations that pertain to veterans. Bowen has been in the position for 10 years.
“It's very challenging, but it's also very satisfying,” he said. “When you provide assistance to your brothers and sisters that have earned these benefits, it's a great reward.”
Bowen enjoyed his online experience at Bellevue University thanks to faculty and staff who ensured he had the tools necessary. Visiting the campus at the invitation of JR Richardson, Director of the Military Veteran Services Center, he was no less impressed with his first on-campus experience.
“It was great to set foot on the campus for the first time. The proximity to Offutt Air Force Base really provides an excellent opportunity for those people to go to school and continue their education,” he said. “Bellevue University’s commitment to military students is very evident, whether you take classes online or on campus.”
Bowen served in the U.S. Air Force for 23 years and was stationed in spots like Bosnia, Turkey, Colorado and Alaska. He retired in 2003 and started studying at Bellevue University while on terminal leave. He picked up a hefty number of credits during his military career and earned two associate degrees in the process. He tried a number of different schools in pursuit of his bachelor’s degree before a visit to his local VA Vocational Rehabilitation Office pointed him toward Bellevue University.
“They faxed my transcripts to Bellevue (University) and got a counselor on the phone with me. I think it was the following week that I started classes,” he said. “The online experience was just outstanding. My counselor was always someone that I could reach out to and the professors that I had online were wonderful.”
Bowen used the Montgomery GI Bill to pay for his education, but it didn’t quite cover everything.
“I wrote a check for 98 cents!” he said.
Bowen has shared his Bellevue University experience with others looking to complete their degrees.
“I’ve steered quite a few of my employees to Bellevue University,” he said. “I’ve even had two people earn their bachelor’s degrees at Bellevue and go on to earn their Ph.D.s at other schools. Bellevue started them on that track.”