Veterans Day | Spotlight

A tribute to Cal State L.A. vets, all military service personnel

CSULA’s Veterans Affairs Office opened its doors this summer

This year, Veterans Days falls on 11-11-11, a date that comes only once every hundred years. On this milestone occasion, Cal State L.A. joins the nation in saluting the men and women in the United States Armed Forces for their service and sacrifice in defending liberty and freedom.

With more than 500 military veterans and military family members currently in attendance, Cal State L.A. is approved for the educating of veterans and their dependents under assistance programs established by state and federal governments.

In response to its growing number of student veterans, the University recently established the Veterans Affairs Office (VAO), under the leadership of Coordinator Laura Shigemitsu. The VAO is responsible for ensuring that student veterans have access to a streamlined system of support, specifically helping them manage and receive their Montgomery GI Bill or Post-911 GI Bill benefits.

Army specialist, Marine corporal swap combat boots for textbooks

Veterans Day

Cal State L.A. will be closed on Veterans Day—Friday, Nov. 11—in honor of all the men and women in the U.S. Armed Forces who have or are currently serving our country.

Veterans Forum

For the third consecutive year, Cal State L.A. hosted the annual Veterans Forum on Friday, Nov. 4, to provide information and resources to assist student veterans to successfully transition from military service to civilian and university life.

Along with a keynote speech by U.S. Army animal care sergeant Tracey Cooper-Harris, the forum featured CSULA veterans sharing their experiences and struggles in higher education, and meet-and-greets with University staff members who work with veterans.

Also speaking at the event were Mickiela Montoya, a female combat veteran who served in the California Army National Guard and United States Army Reserve, and Valvincent Reyes, coordinator of field education for the military social work and veteran services programs at University Park, Orange County Academic Center and the San Diego Academic Center.

The event, organized by the University’s Veterans Advisory Committee, included a screening of the “Lioness,” a documentary that showcases the often perilous duties of an all-female search team for the Marine Corps.

For information regarding veterans’ benefits and services and student-supported programs on campus, call (323) 343-5080 or go to Student Affairs 122.

Among the troops who have or are returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan, many are choosing to go back to college to complete their academic degrees in order to pursue their professional careers. Veterans like Carla McGraw and Christ Kong have set up base at Cal State L.A. to study art education and criminal investigation, respectively.

Picture of Carla McGraw.

A U.S. Army specialist, Carla McGraw served as a military police officer from October 2003 to December 2006. During her service, she was stationed in Wiesbaden Germany, with a short deployment to Iraq and Kuwait in 2004.

She will graduate this spring with her bachelor’s degree in Art and continue on to obtain her teaching credential in the University’s Charter College of Education. Her ultimate goal is to teach art in high school and continue working as a freelance photographer.

McGraw, who is also currently working in the University’s VAO and serving as secretary of the Golden Eagle Veterans Club, said, “My experience here at CSULA has been really great. It is awesome taking classes with a group of students who have the same academic goals and similar interests. Now with the addition of the Veterans Affairs Office, we have the opportunity to network with and meet other veterans.”

Here’s a video clip featuring McGraw:

Picture of Christ Kong.

A graduate student, Corporal Christ Kong served in the U.S. Marine from 2002 to 2006. He was most previously deployed to Iraq, but has served in several missions in Africa, Kuwait, and Southeast Asia.

Kong is currently working full-time for U.S. VETS in Long Beach, providing housing counseling and employment services to homeless veterans, while working toward his master’s degree in criminal justice, with a focus on forensic mental health. His aspiration is to become a criminal investigator, dealing with homicide and robbery cases.

“My peers recommended that I apply for CSULA’s criminal justice program,” said Kong, who earned his bachelor’s degree in public administration with a criminal justice concentration at CSU Dominguez Hills. “I took a class taught by Dr. Katherine Tellis last quarter, which was very compelling. I learned about issues pertaining to female victimization, specifically how it can be reported and prevented. It’s definitely knowledge I can apply in my future job.”

Here’s a video clip featuring Kong:

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