Know Your Resources: Veterans Center At GCC

Supporting those who have served in the United States Military


Hayk Rostomyan

Flags representing each branch of US Military service.

There are many reasons one joins a military branch. Some wish to serve their country and show their patriotism. Some people simply want the benefits during and after their service. No matter what their reason, however, when a veteran comes out of the military, it takes some time for them to adjust to life outside of the military. One thing that definitely helps this sudden shift in life for a veteran is having other veterans there for them.

The Veterans Resource Center (VRC) at GCC is a perfect example of this process working.  For example, when a military member needs help using their benefits, staff members at the VRC are armed with knowledge and ready to assist any veteran who might not be up to speed on the process.

U.S Navy veteran and veteran coordinator in the VRC, Charles Shumate, said what he sees most vets struggle with is lack information. “When you get out of the military, they take you through a program,” Shumate explained. “ And the information they give you is very little, so when you do get out, you really don’t know how to utilize it.”

Though the information given by the military on benefit usage is plentiful, veterans often need guidance. “It became our one-stop-shop, so when veterans come in they don’t have to walk all over campus to find out what was going on,” Shumate added.

Considering that veterans have lived a different life from most civilians, when they get together, it shows off a bond that is unique in nature. “We’ve all kind of acted like they already know each other,” said U.S Coast Guard veteran and science major, Bryant Seymour. “It doesn’t feel like I’ve left the military completely, because I also took this brotherly-sisterly part of it.”

Many vets that have never met can sit down and talk like they’ve known each other for years. Having someone who has gone through similar situations and training can often help someone get through the day.

Even though veterans enjoy each other’s company, civilians are also encouraged to join in and have fun. U.S Marine Corps veteran and aviation and transportation major, Victor Ruiz gave a few tips on easy ways to befriend some veterans and make them feel more comfortable. “We like a lot of dark humor, we laugh at dumb stuff. We’re not easily offended, either,” he said.

Common courtesy being a given, talking with vets can be really interesting from a civilian view. Andrea Ballesteros, a student worker at the VRC, has mastered the craft of befriending veterans. “You’d assume people would know not to ask certain questions, but some people aren’t really informed,” Ballesteros explained. “The main thing is to be inclusive. Treat them like you would anyone else, but be mindful with questions that come with curiosity.”

The VRC also offers services to help military members get back into the swing of going to school. Gerald Desmond, US Army veteran and student worker at the VRC, says that his transition was easier because of the vets that helped him when he enrolled.

“I actually called them a year before I even got out,” Desmond recalled. “They told me what I needed in order to get into GCC and also get setup to start receiving benefits.”

There are a number of services readily available to assist vets, should they need help. There are also programs that the VRC assists with on campus.

“We’re doing a drive to donate from the veterans here to the local food pantry on the GCC Campus. We’ll also be doing a podcast to reach out to more veterans locally,” Desmond said. He urges students and veterans to donate and tune into the VRC podcast to help reach more people.

Ensuring that each veteran has an opportunity to get a college education was one of the many benefits of joining the military originally.

With the community of veterans at GCC, and the support of fellow students and staff, this goal is a bit easier to obtain.

Hayk Rostomyan
Gerald Desmond U.S Army, Harrison Schofield U.S Navy, Charles Shumate US Navy and VRC Coordinator are ready to record a show.