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Veterans Integration to Academic Leadership VITAL

Striving to enhance academic retention and success among veterans.
  • VITAL299

    Veterans Integration to Academic Leadership is a results oriented collaboration between the Nebraska Western Iowa VA Health Care system and Central Community College. 

    This is a two-year pilot program which began August of 2014. CCC is one of 65 colleges and universities in the nation, including 18 community colleges, that have been selected for this program. 

    We strive to enhance academic retention and success. We understand the unique factors facing our veteran students. We are here to help.

    If you are a veteran or concerned about a veteran enrolled in a local college or university, VITAL will partner with you to resolve issues and find resources. 

    As a veteran did you know?

    • You have access to a VA social worker on your campus.
    • There are important benefits and resources available to you.
    • You have someone who can help with VA Services.
    • You have an ally at school that knows your unique needs as a student veteran.

    Services Available for Veterans

    • Treatment for adjustment, stress, anger, depression, anxiety, sleep problems and PTSD.
    • Refer and work with university disability services to request academic accommodations.
    • Support with university processes regarding academic actions and/or conduct issues.
    • Assist with enrollment and care at the VA Nebraska/Western Iowa Health Care System.
    • Obtain help and resources from within the VA and its affiliates including: Veterans Health Administration (VHA), Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), and Vocational Rehabilitation.
    • Support with obtaining and using assistive technology devices such as hearing aids and screen-reader software.
    • Support with development of Student Veteran Peer Groups including Student Veterans of America (SVA) chapters.

    Academic Faculty/Staff

    • Education for college/university staff about Military & Veteran culture.
    • Consult about Veteran specific issues that impact performance and retention.
    • Work with college/university counseling centers in serving the unique mental health needs of Veterans.
    • Assist with communications between the VA and college/university staff about your concerns, resources, and student needs.

    What to Expect

    • Prompt attention to contact made to the VITAL program.
    • VITAL will adhere to all privacy standards with respect and sensitivity.
    • Maintain a Veteran-centered perspective keeping the Veteran's well-being and best interest in mind.
    • Use of Research Based Treatments.

    Social Workers

    Barb Shupe

    barb_webBarb Shupe is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with over 25 years’ experience working with individuals and families. Before accepting the VA V.I.T.A.L. Program Outreach position this August, she worked seven years serving Nebraska’s military and veteran population as the Senior Military Family Life Consultant- MFLC. She served all military branches as well as surviving families of fallen service members (Gold Star Families). She has received several “challenge coins” (awards) from commanders due to her exemplary work with service members as an MFLC. 

    Prior to her MFLC work, she provided social work services to military families stationed at Ft. Leonard Wood, Whiteman AFB, and Ft. Leavenworth in the areas of adoption, domestic violence, military life stress, child welfare, and crisis pregnancy. Ms. Shupe was married to a Vietnam Era Army veteran for 22 years. She is also a “Gold Star” surviving adult child of an Airman killed on active duty. She has many extended family members who are currently, or have served in the military—all branches represented! She has stated she believes it is such an honor for her to serve military/veterans because they have been willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for all of the citizens of the United States of America!  

    Barb will be located on:

    Columbus Campus Tuesdays and Wednesdays 10:00am - 2:00pm in the Veterans & Military Resource Center, Room 208. 
    She will also serve Veterans students in the Lincoln area as well. 
    Dedicated Cell 402-676-4261   Email:

    David Rutherford

    david_webDavid Rutherford is a Licensed Graduate Social Worker from the state of Alabama. David completed his graduate internship working with Veterans at the Tuscaloosa Veterans Affairs Medical Center working in Primary Care and shadowing several other units throughout the course of the placement. Post-graduation, David began working with low-income patients with chronic conditions at Mednet West before accepting the V.I.T.A.L. position with the VA.  David is passionate about serving Veterans and has many close friends and family that served in the military. 

    David will be located on:

    Grand Island campus Mondays from 8:00am - 2:45pm, Tuesdays 8:00am - 4:30pm, and Fridays 8:00am - 4:30pm in Room 203
    Hastings campus on Wednesdays from 9:00am - 3:30pm and Thursdays from 9:00am - 3:30pm in the Veterans & Military Resource Center, Room 163.
    Distance Learning centers on the second Wednesday of every month.
    For any questions concerning V.I.T.A.L. or assistance please contact David:
    Phone 308-339-9406 between the hours of 8:00am-4:30pm any day Monday-Friday.