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In honor of Veterans Day, Cal Poly’s new Veterans Success Center hosted a series of events in the Julian A. McPhee University Union this past weekend.
Headed by Veterans Success Center coordinator Everette Brooks, the week was aimed at introducing the new center and honoring Cal Poly’s 166 veterans and dependents of veterans.
“Veterans have a unique story,” Brooks said. “Some of them have seen combat, some of them haven’t. We’re to reach out to each and every veteran and make sure that they get recognized for the sacrifice that they’ve made.”
The center is still being set up but is expected to open later this month in Science (building 52), room E4.
“It’s going to be a place veterans can come and get resources and anything they may need,” Brooks said. “If a veteran were to need a mental health referral, anything, we’re going to partner with Veterans Resources in the community to try and make it a one-stop shop.”
The Student Veterans Organization (SVO), which was also started this year, will work together with the new center to provide these services. The SVO is headed by political science senior and veteran Lance Iunker, who started the club and the center as his senior project.
“I thought, ‘What a better way to kill two birds as one stone than using my senior project to start this SVO and getting this veterans center created?’” Iunker said.
A push for veteran’s services on campus was sparked by a research study done in California on veteran’s support and friendliness. Of the 23 CSU campuses, Cal Poly scored the lowest in many categories.
Iunker hopes to change that through these new resources on campus. The center’s purpose is to provide a space for veterans to meet and establish a voice, he said.
“We are a minority on campus and we’re much different than the general population,” Iunker said. “A lot of us have had careers or other jobs, a lot of us have been wounded or suffer (from) PTSD or other things, so to be able to come out and meet other vets and have a group and support — thats what it’s about.”
Retired U.S. Navy Commander and Cal Poly professor Don Morris has been invited to speak at the dedication of the Veterans Success Center later this month. He also participated in Veterans Awareness Week by demonstrating his athleticism in a free-throw contest with the Cal Poly men’s basketball team.
“Veterans come back with a whole different world behind them,” Morris said. “They need somebody to help them get used to this world as students. I’m very proud that Cal Poly is doing this to honor the veterans.”