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Veterans at Cal Poly now have a new resource on campus. The Veteran Success Center (VSC) has come to Science (Building 52) Room E4.
Cal Poly will host a grand welcoming ceremony for their own center in February, which stemmed from a California State University initiative to enhance veteran services on all campuses throughout the state. The center will support the 74 veterans attending Cal Poly, according to Everette Brooks, veteran and VSC support staff adviser.
“It started that each campus were to have veteran representatives,” he said. “(There was) a push to have veterans recognized, get their benefits and enhance services.”
According to the VSC mission and goals statement on their website, the center serves as a financial, academic and personal aid to veterans and dependents. To Brooks, however, these words only begin to scratch the surface.
Not only does the VSC represent historical context of Cal Poly’s past as an aviator training school, it also understands current veteran needs and promotes extended services Brooks said.
“There’s not much buildup knowledge about the whole context of what a veteran is,” he said. “Providing (a home) here on campus will be more understanding to other people of what a true veteran is.”
The Vet Net Valley Program is one service the center offers, which provides faculty and staff with an educational awareness program to inform them of the needs of veterans. Other services include career and counseling support.
Brooks also emphasized focusing on the 130 dependents of veterans receiving benefits who attend Cal Poly. Additionally, the center welcomes volunteers who want to provide support to veterans.
“There’s no entity that can stand alone and make it. Some people just have a heart for what people have gone through,” Brooks said. “The breakdown is high on dependents of veterans’ side.”
Brooks views the center as a “portal,” where opportunities for family cohesion can exist on campus between both veterans and non-veterans.
Part of this connection is fostered by the Student Veteran Organization (SVO) within the center, created by political science senior Lance Lunker, as a senior project.
“I wanted to do something involving veterans,” Lunker said. “There haven’t been a lot of things at Cal Poly in terms of support.”
SVO is a chapter of a national program, Student Veterans of America. It operates out of the VSC, continuing to provide a community for veterans through fundraising and further advancements to the VSC, Lunker said.
Lunker stresses the importance of the SVO functioning not as a club, but as a “tool” to bring awareness and support to veterans on campus.
“We wanted to break away from club mentality and build community with no strings attached,” he said. “Cal Poly is a great school for veterans because there is a mutually beneficial relationship. Veterans in classrooms provide prospective and experience.”
The VSC foresees much growth in the near future in terms of a larger staff and increased veteran presence on campus according to Brooks.
“We do want to grow and expand,” he said. “We are taking it one step at a time.”
Dean of Students Jean DeCosta believes the center will connect veterans with one another and provide them a place to call home.
“(It will be) a viable and exciting place for veterans to connect, learn and grow together,” she said. “It gives us a chance to understand how to truly support them.”