Veterans Resource Center, Cal State L.A. | Nov. 15, 2013 | Spotlight

New digs for student veterans at Cal State L.A.

Political leaders, the campus community celebrate opening of Veterans Resource Center

For grand opening photos:
(click photos for hi-res images)

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photo of Veterans Resource Center grand opening.

The new Veterans Resource Center at Cal State L.A., which serves approximately 600 veteran and active duty students, officially opened its doors last week with patriotic fanfare and remarks by CSULA President William A. Covino and top political leaders.

Joining the campus community during the celebration were Congresswoman Judy Chu, Assemblyman Ed Chau and Assistant Sheriff James J. Hellmold. The center, located at Physical Science 113, celebrated its grand opening after months of renovation.

“It feels fitting to dedicate the first permanent Veterans Resource Center one week before our nation comes together in celebration of Veterans Day,” said CSULA President William A. Covino, who addressed the crowd during the festivities. “With today’s grand opening, we do our small part to honor our students’ sacrifice for our country, thank them for their service, and enable their transition to student life.”

The day’s program included a presentation of colors by Hollywood High School JROTC students with accompaniment by bugle player and veteran Tom Laffey, a former CSULA Student Affairs staff member.

Members of the CSULA Veterans Student Organization were also on hand to offer information regarding campus services available to student veterans, and to give the campus community an opportunity to sign greeting cards that will be included in care packages to be sent to troops overseas and stateside.

“I’m really proud that CSULA opened its new Veterans Resource Center,” said Mark Kleinsmith, president of CSULA Veterans Student Organization, “…it’s a starting point for veterans and staff to build resources for student veterans and to give them a fighting chance to succeed in higher education.”

During the celebration, both Chu and Chau presented certificates of appreciation to CSULA acknowledging the university’s continued effort in helping military veterans transition from active duty to student and public life.

“On the battlefield, the military pledges to leave no soldier behind,” said Honorable Chu, who has recently introduced bipartisan legislation to improve the GI Bill’s educational benefits counseling process. “We must ensure that, when they return home, we leave no veteran behind. The new Veterans Resource Center at Cal State L.A. is a tremendous step toward that goal.”

Following the formal event, more than 100 attendees enjoyed light refreshments and toured the new facility, which features a student lounge/study area, a conference room, an outdoor patio, and ample space for personnel to provide new student veterans guidance and support.

The center also assists students in navigating the certification and application processes, finding support for success on campus, and preparing them to reach their academic, career and life goals.

The center is comprised of a veterans affairs coordinator, a benefits coordinator, student assistants and a vocational rehabilitation counselor. The coordinators provide one-on-one assistance to veterans in beginning the enrollment process to CSULA and applying for their educational and military benefits.

Committed to fostering a military-friendly campus, CSULA has recently started working together with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to expand the availability of services to military veteran students through the VA’s VetSuccess on Campus Program.

Marco Urias, interim veterans affairs coordinator, feels truly fortunate to be at the helm of what he described as “a grand and noble operation of serving our veterans.”

“As a USCG combat veteran, I understand the readjustment that veterans go through and I am committed to helping students transition to Cal State L.A. where they have the opportunity to achieve their full academic potential,” said Urias.

The campus joined the nation on Veterans Day in saluting the men and women of the United States Armed Forces for their service and sacrifice in defending liberty and freedom. From Nov. 9 to 15, the faces and stories of veterans throughout the CSU system, including CSULA alum veteran Christ Kong, are displayed in the State Capitol Building in Sacramento as a tribute to the men and women who have served in the armed forces.

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