Training gives Elans insight into veteran struggles

OPEN ARMS—Guest speaker David Joseph talks about the “Welcome Home” training, which focuses on veteran awareness at East Los Angeles College on Friday. CN/Noe Ortega

By Noe Ortega

Guest speakers Marshall Thomas and David Joseph introduced a Welcome Home training program to educate faculty, staff and students about veteran issues on campus.

Both speakers presented videos consisting of house raids, soldiers coming home to their loved ones and soldiers in gun battles.

The event was hosted by the Veterans Resource Center to help people who haven’t served in the military gain an understanding of what veterans go through mentally, the culture of the military and how veterans can be helped.

“There is a massive difference between campuses that have (a VRC) and campuses that don’t when it comes to how well their veterans do on campus,” Joseph said.

Joseph believes that when there are services on campus for veterans like these, it makes them feel cared for.

Joseph, who served in the Israeli Army, invented the Welcome Home training program and is the director of a veteran’s center in Oakland, California.

Thomas, who served in the Marine Corps from 1986-1992, is now the director at California State  University, Long Beach’s Federal Services. He is also the creator of Vet Net Ally.

Vet Net Ally, according to Cal State Long Beach’s website, is an awareness program for faculty and staff to create a supportive atmosphere for veterans.

It also educates students at the university about veterans and how to be an ally to them.

Thomas spoke about how California has the most veterans in the nation, which makes it the state with the most veterans enrolled in community colleges.

“If (veterans are) getting out of the services right now and know (they) want to go to a Cal State University or a University of California  next year, (veterans) may not meet the minimum qualifications (required),” Thomas said.

Thomas also said that community colleges such as ELAC are  gateways toward four-year universities because of the fact that it doesn’t cost as much as a university, and because the majority of veterans aren’t ready to enter a four-year university when they come back from active duty.

Thomas went over the Government Issue Bill’s benefits and limitations. The bill is an educational benefit that pays for veterans’ tuition and fees as long as they’re in-state residents.

The benefits are earned by members who served in Active Duty, Selected Reserve and National Guard Armed Forces and also for their families.

According to Thomas, veterans are stereotyped as ticking time bombs, killers, not being as intelligent as others and conservatives are among the stereotypes given to veterans according to Thomas.

According to the National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics, 36.5 percent of male veterans have enrolled into a college while 28.1 percent were non-veterans and 44.3 percent of women veterans have enrolled in college while 31.7 percent are non-veteran women.

According to the statistics, women veterans are more likely to have a bachelor’s degree or an advanced degree than men veterans and non-veterans.

Joseph also spoke about what veterans go through after serving in the military, and how post-traumatic stress disorder prevents them from living a normal life. PTSD is a disorder that is usually caused after experiencing a traumatic event.

According to Joseph, the common issues for veterans are moral injuries, which affects their conscience and leads them to emotional shame

Joseph said the usual questions that go through veterans’ heads make them feel excluded. Questions like: “Why did I live while others died?” “Am I a murderer because I killed?” “How can I ever get close to someone again?”

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