Military veterans living in McDowell, Wyoming, Monroe, and Mercer Counties will find a friend who "speaks their language," when they meet Al Hancock, a Bluefield State College Veterans Upward Bound counselor. The Minority Affairs Chairman for the West Virginia State Council/Vietnam Veterans of America, Hancock uses his 23-years as a service veteran, coupled with his experience as an educator, to assist veterans who seek to improve their lives by pursuing postsecondary education. "The Veterans Upward Bound program is all about opportunity," Hancock noted. "Service veterans can continue their education or pursue their individual goals through the program. Program services include career and academic counseling and testing, short-term refresher courses in computers, math, and sciences, and assistance in completing college entrance applications, SAT/ACT applications, and financial aid forms." Hancock stressed that VUB services are free to qualifying service veterans in the program. "The refresher courses are short-term, 12 week courses that meet once a week," he added. "They are designed to sharpen the service veterans' skills as they prepare to pursue postsecondary education. Veterans Upward Bound is a fantastic program for veterans serious about their education. The program covers the cost of books, paper, tutors, and equipment." VUB is particularly well equipped to help the underemployed, unemployed, or marginally-employed veteran by providing three levels of instruction--pre-GED, GED, and remedial preparation for college. Tentative plans call for Hancock to visit the Saulsville campus of Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College September 18 to present information on the program. "VUB seeks to offer college as a viable alternative for young veterans who would 'automatically' leave the service and seek a job," Hancock stated. "To older veterans who have been displaced in the workforce, VUB offers college as a real option, helping veterans to secure gainful employment through academic achievement and enhancement." Before retiring from the Air Force, Hancock served 23 years, including two tours in Vietnam. Several of his poems about his Vietnam experience have been published. When veterans come through the doors of our offices at Bluefield State College, we speak their language. "We will make them feel comfortable, and we want to help," he concluded. The Veterans Upward Bound office is located in Mahood Hall on the Bluefield State College campus. Additional information may be obtained by calling (304) 327-4288 or (toll-free) 1-888-428-0425.