Meet the people of the Veterans Resource Center

Micaela Black, M.Ed., CRC, QRC, LMHC
VetSuccess on Campus Coordinator

Micaela is a counselor for the Department of Veterans Affairs. She works on campus at RIC to assist student Veterans in pursuing all areas of their academic and career goals. Micaela provides guidance and support with VA education benefits and strives to ensure that Veterans (or their family members) understand the process. She can also link Veterans to other VA resources, including healthcare and benefits information. Additionally, Micaela can work with student Veterans to set up school support services. If you are a student Veteran, please consider checking in with Micaela to make sure you are aware of all the benefits and services you are entitled to utilize.

Robert "Joe" Towner
Sonar Technician Chief Petty Officer Submarines (STSC/SS)
USN Retired
RIC VA Work Study

Joe spent 22 years in the military. Initially serving in the Army and the Army Reserve, he transferred over to the Navy and spent time onboard submarines for the bulk of his service. He served onboard and qualified on five different classes of submarines, three Fast attack submarines and two fleet ballistic missile submarines. He also served during Desert Shield and Desert Storm, and is an OEF/OIF veteran, including operations in support of the Global War on Terrorism. Joe served as a Military Training Instructor and supervised the training of sailors in the job specialty areas (Combat Systems Ratings) until they received their initial orders to the Fleet. Joe qualified as a Master Training Specialist, helped to maintain and update the curriculum for Sonar "A" schools and aided in designing the curriculum for the Naval Submarine School's first electronic classrooms. Additionally Joe qualified as a Master Staff Specialist while at the Naval Submarine School in Groton, CT. His last tour was with the Submarine Surveillance Equipment Program. Joe retired from active duty in 2009. From 2009 to 2011 Joe was a Field Engineer and Installation Team Leader for a Defense Contractor until starting school at Rhode Island College. Joe has completed a bachelors in Education and is currently pursuing a masters in Educational Leadership.

Neal Yeatman
Gunnery Sgt USMC Retired
RIC VA Work Study

Neal spent twenty-two years in the United States Marine Corps. His first tour was as an Air Traffic Controller while stationed at MCAS Tustin, California, MCAS Iwakuni, Japan, which included a six month tour of Korea in support of Operation Team Spirit, and MCAS El Toro, California. Not satisfied with the challenges offered in the air traffic control field, Gysgt. Yeatman transferred to 3rd Battalion 4th Marines, India Company, Weapons Platoon and retrained as a machine gunner and assumed duties as the Machinegun Section Leader for that unit. He held similar billets in 3rd Battalion 6th Marines and 3rd Battalion 8th Marines. Gysgt. Yeatman has taken part in combat operations in Central and South America as well as Africa and West Asia. Gysgt. Yeatman also did an eighteen month tour as a Combat Water Survival Instructor in NWTTC Naval Base in Coronado, California and three years as a Marine recruiter in the 1st Marine District Recruiting Command. Neal has been married to Diane M. Yeatman (Miller) of Cranston, Rhode Island for twenty-two years and they have two sons.

rebeccaRebecca R. Swagger, M.A.
Graduate Assistant, VRC

Rebecca is a post-Masters graduate student in the M.S. Mental Health Counseling program. She works alongside the work study veteran staff to facilitate assistance to student veterans. This is her third year as Graduate Assistant in the VRC!  She also seeks out opportunities on campus to improve veteran relations and collaborates on research that support veterans and their families. Rebecca currently works on a health behaviors assessment study for post-9/11 returning veterans.

Scott D. Bjurman
Retired US Army
RIC VA Work Study

Scott spent a combined service time of 8 years in the military. Initially serving in Active Duty Army then transferring to serve full time in the National Guard. Scott started his military career in the aviation field where he worked as an Apache Helicopter Mechanic working on the Hell Fire Ballistic Missile System for the Longbow Apache (AH-64). Realizing he wanted to do more Scott switched his MOS to Infantry where he served as a Mountain Infantry Soldier in various parts of the globe. Upon returning, Scott became a Criminal Investigative Analyst alongside FBI, DEA, and RISP on a Counter Drug Task Force. Since his completion of service, Scott has enrolled in the Bachelors of Social Work Program here at Rhode Island College and plans on attending the Masters of Social Work Program. His goal is to work with veterans on a clinical basis at the VA.

rebeccaAlec Castagno
Former US Army
RIC VA Work Study

Alec spent six years in the active duty Army, serving the majority of his time with the 1st Cavalry Division. He completed one tour of duty in South Korea and two in Iraq. After leaving the service, Alec moved to Rhode Island and attended the Community College of Rhode Island before transferring to Rhode Island College. Alec is currently a Geography major with plans to attend law school.

Page last updated: September 23, 2015