After two years of hard work, members of the GCC Veterans Association finally accomplished their goal of having a newly expanded Veteran’s Resource Center on campus, celebrating the occasion with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Nov. 6.
Although the veterans had a space that opened a year ago, the new center will be an expansion of the original office.
The extra space, run by the Veterans Association, allows room to study, as it includes four large tables, a couch and computer stations. The room also has a bookshelf filled with donated schoolbooks that the veterans can use.
The Veterans Association is composed of United States Armed Forces Veterans currently enrolled at GCC. Founded by Thomas Wales, a Navy veteran, in the fall of 2012, the association was established for the purpose of creating a social group for student veterans to interact with one another after having separated from military. The school currently has more than 200 student veterans.
“We want to do more than honor our veterans and their service once a year,” said superintendent/president David Viar. “We want to serve our veterans, and serve them every day that they are here at Glendale Community College.”
Viar wants to assure veterans that they can get what they need to be successful and achieve their educational goals.
He also said that he was put off by the location of the center at first, as it was tucked into the Aviation Arts building and isolated from the rest of the campus. Although the area currently has little foot traffic, once the GCC Student Center expands onto the patio in front of the center and the new building opens, it will become more visible.
The president also commended the Veterans Association for taking the lead and helping the college become a better place.
The Resource Center was funded in large part by the Youssef and Kamel Mawardi Fund, which enabled the purchase of computers, office furniture and other necessities. At the ribbon cutting, fund trustee Larry Meyer and his daughter Carole Meyer-Rieth were honored.
Roxanne Dominguez, who has been a counselor for 15 years, is a counselor of both the Scholars Program and the Veterans Resource Center.
When they realized the veterans needed night counseling, Jolie Morris stepped in to help as well. The counselors are trained to help veterans with their VA Benefits and eligibility, in addition to military service related issues. They also provide counseling for dependents, including military spouses and children.
Veterans are eligible for funding by the G.I. Bill provided by the U.S Department of Veterans Affairs. The education funding lasts up to three years, depending on the number of units taken. Many students, however, decide to use their G.I. Bill after they transfer.
“They are very goal oriented,” said Dominguez. “A lot of our students accomplish their goals.
A lot of the veteran students come in to get their AA and say ‘I like this! Do you think I can continue?’ and we help them add the classes needed to transfer.”
She said that a lot of veterans come to GCC already having taken classes while in the service, moving them ahead of the game, but need help figuring out what their next step should be.
“The students love this campus and the environment,” said Dominguez. “I think we just need some more staff development to know what these students are about. Our veterans are often older and married with dependents, or even still involved with the military.”
For more information on the GCC Veterans Association, visit http://www.gccva.us/.