After months of anticipation, veterans received notice on Monday that PCC was approved for a Veterans Resource Center pilot program. The pilot program includes computer equipment, software and ongoing training for the VRC staff and veterans from the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s office. PCC is one of just 12 colleges chosen to participate in the program.
“The VRC will provide a central entry point for veterans as they navigate the civilian and academic worlds,” said Veterans Club Program Director Patty D’Orange-Martin.
“The overall goal is to deliver tools and services to optimize academic success,” she said. “This effort will involve collaboration between many services on campus.
“The VRC will provide computers and assistance for veterans with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI),” as well, said D’Orange-Martin.
Veterans will receive academic counseling, peer support and mentoring,” she said.
“This is a great victory for the veterans,” said Veterans Club President Carol Calandra.
“This will provide the resources, camaraderie and safe place they’ve been seeking,” she said.
According to D’Orange-Martin, veterans will provide services directly to fellow veterans.
The peer counseling programs will reflect the military traditions of shared values and experiences, and provide a bridge that will allow veterans access to more traditional student services offices on campus, she said.
Services will include referral to on- and off-campus resources such as student and local Veteran Administration Health Centers, she said.
In addition, VRC staff will provide consultation to college faculty and staff regarding issues specific to returning veterans and their family members, D’Orange-Martin said.
“Finally, I’ll be able to do homework in the quiet,” said business major and veteran Juan Hernandez, 28.
Hernandez said studying alongside other veterans with good study practices and set goals inspired him to work harder.
“We’re all very close-knit and try to support each other on and off campus,” said history/international relations major George Kooshian, 25.
“This is just another way to have some infrastructure under our support for each other,” he said.
Kooshian attended PCC between his two deployments, between 2005 and 2009. Having served two years in Iraq, he’s back at PCC and is an Army Reservist who still has to keep his hair short.
“I’ll probably live in there,” he joked.
It’s not uncommon to see two or more veterans quietly studying or using the single computer located in the cramped quarters of the current Veterans Services Department in the CC Building.
At other times, the tiny room is packed with standing room only.
Last month, the veterans and their advisers presented a presentation about the need for a resource center to the Board.