By Juan Calvillo
The Veterans Resource Center brought county services to inform veterans of the benefits of being a part of the armed forces. Various universities also attended the event to highlight the details of transferring to four-year schools and the options veterans have in doing so.
East Los Angeles College’s VRC, is dedicated to informing and helping students who are military veterans. Jessica Peak, academic counselor for the VRC, said that the “Charlie Mike” event was created for both new and returning students at ELAC.
She said that one of the benefits of the event was to show the students that they can embrace the campus. “Camaraderie is a real good thing,” said Peak.
In an effort to provide both transferring and service-specific information for veteran students, the event had representatives from multiple four-year universities as well as LA county and local ELAC services.
Colleges present ranged from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona to Loyola Marymount University.
Each college had plans and centers that were designed to help student Veterans make the transition to higher education easier. Sonia Salazar, from LMU’s transfer admission and enrollment services, said that students should check online for the agreement that LMU has with ELAC when it comes to course transfers.
Lisha Maddox, Director of Student Services, talked about the benefits available to veterans which include the transfer agreement, priority registration and services for scholastic and personal advancement.
Cal Poly Pomona representatives focused on the benefits that come along with veteran status when transferring, with counseling and tutoring for students at the forefront. Local and county wide services were also on hand for the event.
Thomas Salazar, the vocational rehabilitation coordinator for Jobs Vision Success SoCal, talked about the options that are available to veterans through JVS SoCal.
He said he felt honored to be helping veterans and that his goal was to give the routine and security many found in the armed forces here at home.
Working with JVS SoCal gives Salazar the chance to help veterans get training for California licensed jobs, all of which is paid for by the county of Los Angeles.
Salazar said that his main objective was to educate veterans on what’s really out there.
He also briefly touched on the fact that veterans leaving the armed forces aren’t really given all the tools necessary to make the transition to civilian life easier.
He said that the Transitional Assistance Programs employed by the government are not enough at times.
In an effort to help veterans get more in touch with what programs are available for them, the California Department of Veterans Affairs has started offering the chance for veterans to have the title of “veteran” placed on their identification cards and driver’s license.
Veterans need to bring their military discharge certificate, DD214, to their County Veteran Service Office to get the needed documentation. All of this is done by the CDVA to get veterans to go into their CVSO to get information not only on the drivers license but to also get as much information on the benefits and potential claims for disabilities. Getting their license or ID stamped with “Veteran” is an added boost to the chance of getting veterans the help they can use.Veteran benefits include knowing where veterans can get assistance.
Daniel Marquez, from the East Los Angeles Veterans Affairs Center, said that the East LA center was not as widely known and that being on campus for the event allowed veterans studying at ELAC the chance to learn that it was a local affairs center.
He said that because of its small size the center was much more like a family.
Marquez said that the local VA center had employment and job placement services as well as mental health professionals for veterans and he encouraged ELAC veterans to check it out.
The Charlie Mike event is held at the beginning of every semester with the hope of getting information into the hands of those that were in the armed forces.
“As long as we help one veteran, we are happy with that,” said Mike Garcia, VRC’s career guidance counselor of the event.
JVS SoCal can be reached online at www.jvs-socal.org for more information. CDVA has more information at www.calvet.ca.gov.
The VRC is located on campus at D7-A and is open Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.