Club helps ease transition to student life for Veterans

By Juan Calvillo

The Veterans Club is helping student veterans adjust to returning home from service by recreating the camaraderie of service through like-minded members and campus events. 

Acting president Daniel Mundaca and acting Vice President Samuel Lobos said one of the club’s goals is connecting student veterans with the rest of the campus.

Lobos said making the club more accessible to all student population is important to creating this connection. 

He said that networking with  other veterans and everyday students is important. 

The goal is to get Elans to understand the club and its members.

The club plans on being open and honest about what being a veteran and having served entails. 

It will be informational not only to members that are veterans, but to those who aren’t.

“People always know a veteran. You know like: ‘Oh hey I got a friend who recently joined.’ You know what I mean? Or ‘Hey, I know a guy who’s out already. He’s struggling with this. How can I help him?’”  Mundaca said.

Mundaca said the club will be open to talking about the realities that come with serving in the armed forces. 

This leads to another of the clubs goals, which is helping club members who have issues with readjusting to civilian life.

From 2008 to 2016 there were more than 6000 veteran suicides each year according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs National Suicide Data Report of 2018. 

The club is dedicated to educating the public on these numbers so that they may think about it when interacting veterans. 

Mundaca said  often it seems like only veterans really know how to interact and talk with veterans. 

This is what leads to people often wondering how to check in on people that have served in their own lives. 

The club will be a place where topics like contemplating suicide and the problems veterans are facing can be addressed by people who understand the situation.

“A real common thing is suicide with veterans, right? A lot of veterans commit suicide once they’re out,” Mundaca said. 

He wants potential club members to know that the club will be a safe space to talk and help student veterans understand that they aren’t alone in their struggles. 

Mundaca said that having veterans understand that help with suicidal thoughts and anger issues is available would be key to the club.

Lobos said that talking about these mental issues is important to them and that these common problems have solutions. 

“What we want to do is at least be able to talk about it. And then point them in the right direction, as far as getting professional help and services,” said Lobos.

Mundaca said the Veterans Resource Center is the first place they would turn people to when it comes to initial help. 

Lobos said club adviser Jessica Peak, VRC coordinator and counselor, has contacts for various resources veterans can use.

Lobos said the club also plans on getting together every couple of weeks to play pick up games of basketball or soccer. 

He said the purpose of these club events is fostering a spirit reminiscent of the one soldiers have in their barracks.

“It’s like ‘Hey man, what are you doing?’ ‘Oh, Nothing I’m bored.’ ‘Like ‘Hey, you want to cook out? Or, hey you want to go hiking?’” Lobos said. 

But the idea always is that there is something going on to keep club members social.

Mundaca said the camaraderie the club creates will help club members who aren’t veterans connect with those that are. 

This is why the club is open to anyone. Student veterans and civilian students are both encouraged to join. 

Mundaca said the hope is to create friendships and networking opportunities for club members for the future.

The club’s first meeting will be next Wednesday at noon. 

Meeting will be held in the VRC in building D7-A. 

For more information call Veterans Resource Center at (323) 415-5052.

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