‘Veteran’s Power Hour’ airs the stories of the College’s veterans

By Eric Devlin
Matthew Benko, Manager of Veterans Services, and an active-duty Delaware Air National Guard senior master sergeant, hosts "Veteran's Power Hour" Fridays at 9 a.m. on Montco Radio. Photo by Matthew Porter.

Matthew Benko, Manager of Veterans Services, and an active-duty Delaware Air National Guard senior master sergeant, hosts "Veteran's Power Hour" Fridays at 9 a.m. on Montco Radio. Photo by Matthew Porter.

Montco Radio’s newest series gives a special salute to Montgomery County Community College veterans.

Tune in as Matthew Benko, Manager of Veterans Services at MCCC, hosts “Veteran’s Power Hour” a live, one-hour, online radio show airing Fridays at 9 a.m. Each week Benko sits down with veterans from across college students and the community to share their experiences.

An active-duty Delaware Air National Guard senior master sergeant, Benko said he hopes the new show will allow veterans to hear and learn from one another.

“I wanted to create an access point for veterans to be thanked for their service,” he said. “I wanted to highlight what being a veteran means to them.”

Benko, 42, who lives in West Norriton, has a combined 22 years of military service, dating back to his time as a senior airman in the United States Air Force and a staff sergeant in the Pennsylvania Air National Guard. He also has experience as a counselor at the Philadelphia and Coatesville Veterans Affairs Medical Centers. He hopes that bona fides will help his guests feel comfortable and willing to open up to him during the show.

“It’s been great to reconnect with veterans in this capacity,” he said of the show. “When I was a counselor and therapist at the VA that was my job. I managed a caseload of 200 veterans in a clinical setting. My duties as therapist were to talk with veterans and engage their stories. That’s the piece I miss the most: hearing and connecting with veterans. To facilitate a dialogue to help them process their experiences.”

The show he said is meant to be fun and meaningful for guests and listeners. He hopes veterans across generations will tune in.

“Not everyone may be comfortable going on the radio, but hearing other veterans tell their stories may be empowering,” he said. “There’s a common theme of veterans from generations apart being able to connect and bond. That’s the power of the veterans’ network. Their shared experiences empower them and can get them out of a challenging time.”

Hosting the show with little to no experience behind a microphone hasn’t been too much of an issue, said Benko. He credits Matt Porter, Senior Producer and Technical Services Manager, for putting him through radio basic training.

“Matt said, ‘You fly airplanes. This is easy. It’s literally three switches. Think of it like a keyboard on steroids,’” said Benko. “It’s overwhelming but I’ve always been technically interested.”

The real challenge has been finding ways to grow and evolve the show, he said. He has a rolodex of veterans groups, students, faculty and staff on campus who he hopes will come on the show but he’d like to find ways to expand beyond that, too.

“And find a way to use this as a resource for Montco student veterans, military- connected students and their families. The show connects families as well. Because it’s a core value and mission of the College. We’re a community college. We are an access point and means for the community to connect. That’s what we’re all about as far as the community college goes.”

Previous episodes of the show will be available for download as a podcast via Spreaker. The College community can listen to Montco Radio programming anytime live online. The website features links to listen, information about the club and a schedule of shows.

MCCC has its designated Veterans Resource Centers where it assists students with their VA benefits, helps them transition to campus life and hosts an active Student Veterans Organization, where they can connect with other veteran-students through weekly meetings and activities. Through Prior Learning Assessment (PLA), MCCC also offers credit for eligible military experience and training. The Veterans Resource Center is located on Blue Bell Campus next to the Fine Arts Center. Services are also available at the Pottstown Campus in North Hall. For more information about Veterans Services, contact the Veterans Resource Centers. For more information about Veteran’s Power Hour, contact Matthew Benko.