Student creates downtown Phoenix Veterans club, seeks to assist elderly

Carlos Forcadilla

Growing up in a military family, Carlos Forcadilla always felt like going into the service was part of his civic duty. In 2002 he enlisted in the United States Army and worked hard to become a sergeant. He was in charge of aviation fuel and ammunition for Apache Helicopters and Backhawks.

Although he faced the plight of war, Forcadilla enjoyed the comradery among the troops and being able to travel the globe. He was also touched the selfless acts he saw in the area where he was staying in Europe.

Upon leaving the Army, Forcadilla joined the National Guard part time so that he could simultaneously attend college. He settled on a social work degree after realizing his passion for working with the community while he was abroad in the Army.

After spending three years at Metro State University of Denver in Colo, Forcadilla decided to transfer to Arizona State University to receive the accreditation he would need to work in the field and take advantage of the benefits ASU offers veterans.

“I was looking at the benefits for student veterans at ASU and there was so much to offer such as in-state tuition, priority registration and the Tillman Center, which facilitates most of the student veteran benefits,” he said.

The transition has been nothing but positive, Forcadilla says. Aside from his studies, he is heavily involved with Tempe campus Veterans Club, and will launch the Downtown Phoenix campus Veterans Club this fall to connect with vets across multiple campuses.

For him, being able to provide a solid support system for those transitioning from military to civilian life is extremely important.

“Going to school with students who are coming straight out of high school can be awkward because most vets don’t know how to communicate with them. I want to help these student vets by making it easier for them to enjoy the student experience and pursue their degree,” Forcadilla said.

Part of this outreach includes connecting veterans with educational resources such as TRiO Upward Bound, encouraging the use of professor’s office hours and free tutoring centers on all four campuses.

The former sergeant also doubles as the student representative for the National Association of Social Workers Arizona Chapter (NASW). As ASU and NAU are the only two schools accredited through the Council on Social Work Education, Forcadilla serves as a bridge between both schools and the directors of NASW.

“I knew that joining this organization would help me out as far as networking with other social work professionals on a national and international level,” he said.

And while he grew up in California, the Sun Devil plans to make Arizona his home.

Upon earning his bachelor’s degree, Forcadilla would like to continue his education with a master’s degree in social work from ASU. He is also hoping to land a job at either the Veterans Affairs Office in Downtown Phoenix or at a veteran’s clinic throughout the valley working with elderly war heroes.