Nestled away against the backdrop of campus lies a little gem of an office, the Veterans Resource Center, which offers servicemen and women an array of services as well as providing essential connections to various community resources. 

For the heroes returning home, there are often a myriad of challenges involved in reintegrating into civilian life, and PCC’s very own department is there to lend a helping hand and support these heroes in achieving their educational endeavors. There are many service men and women aspiring to obtain college degrees and have successfully done so through programs offered by the resource center. 

“Last year, we had the largest number of veterans that completed, transferred, and or graduated,” said Carol Calandra, the chief director of the Veteran Resource Center.

Numerous accolades have given praise to the center and its programs including Congresswoman Grace Napolitano, according to a presentation by Director Carol Calandra in the Nov 9 board of trustees meeting. The program has also been ranked as No.8 in the US by The Military Times publication in 2020. 

Through steadfast dedication and organization, Calandra and her associates have sculpted the center into an exceptional outlet. 

A determined case management system relentlessly focused on their clients needs is key. While the case worker may assist with the academic level of support, they are also there to assist with housing, employment, and the overall wellness of the veteran and their families. 

To register, veteran students are required to complete their applications. Once enrolled in the program, they may submit their paperwork and apply for any benefits with the help of the center. 

While the resource center has permitted veteran students to flourish, mental health awareness and veteran suicide are rampant and both have impacted these heroes to a considerable degree. The resource center has sponsored six events in order to raise such awareness as well as providing prevention workshops. 

Although PCC is a stellar example of what veteran services should be, it should be noted that statewide outcomes are not always successful. Veterans are at a 57% higher risk of suicide than those who have not served, according to national statistics provided by stopsoldiersuicide.org. While the VA administration strives to help its soldiers, there is still room for significant improvement. 

“Our VRC is successful because of the amazing support that we have always received from our campus community and because our student veterans consistently have a seat at the table that allows us to help each other,” Calandra said.

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