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Veterans Honored With Dedication of New Center

Center, Tree Planting and Wall of Heroes Top Nov. 5-9 Honors for Veterans

Nov. 1, 2012; Updated Nov. 8, 2012

A man looks at a pillar of military servicemen.

Student Ryan Starrett looks at the images posted on last year's Wall of Heroes display.

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When Cal State Fullerton dedicates its new Student Veteran Center Friday, Nov. 9, elected officials will join students and other campus members for the 10 a.m. program in the courtyard of the Humanities-Social Sciences Center.

Congressman Ed Royce, a Cal State Fullerton alumnus from the Class of '77, and Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez are scheduled to address attendees. Other speakers on the roster include: veteran Norman Mendeolia, a CSUF student and tutor for the Office of Veterans Student Services; CSUF President Mildred García; and Bob Sato of Tee It Up for the Troops.

Preceding the dedication is a 9 a.m. tree-planting ceremony outside Titan Shops, in honor and recognition of veterans and active-duty personnel. The Student Veterans Association donated a tree for the ceremony.

The Student Veteran Center, relocated from another campus facility, is housed in Room 230 of University Hall, where veterans can use computers veterans, get tutoring, study and hold meetings.

"The center is a great addition to the services that veterans student services offers," said Catherine Ward, coordinator of veterans services on campus. "The student veterans service was established in 2008, and we've longed for a space of our own. Now we finally have it. We have logged more student visits here this past semester than in the previous three."

"Many veterans are older than other students and have families and jobs," said Daniel Akers, an Army veteran and assistant coordinator of veterans services. "Because of the types of training and experiences we've had, vets sometimes feel like we don't fit in with the general student population. However, we have pride in our service, and the center is a way to demonstrate that pride to our vets."

Programs offered to student veterans include mentoring and peer-to-peer counseling that connects veterans who have been on campus for several semesters with their newer cohorts. On campus, 82 of the registered veterans are female, and Ward has developed special programs for them, as well.

"We're also here to assist veterans with other challenges they may be facing — whether they are academic, helping with the process for funding, working with them to develop their schedules or figuring out how they can continue their studies, if they are deployed again," said Ward. "We have about 500 student veterans on campus, and about 30 percent of them are actively involved in veterans programs here."

A survey conducted by the Office of Veterans Student Services found that students who take advantage of the services offered tend to improve their grades and that the persistence rate — the percentage of students that remain in school from one semester to the next — is 95 percent higher than those of non-participants.

A Wall of Heroes showcasing photos of student veterans, as well as alumni, faculty, staff and their family members who are veterans, will be on display from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 5 to 8 along the walkway between the Pollak Library and Titan Student Union. Now in its fourth year, the wall has expanded from three pillars to seven.

Two lectures are open to the public to cast light on issues that are important to veterans. Both are held from noon to 1 p.m. in the WoMen's Center, Room 205 of University Hall.

Tuesday, Nov. 6 — "Shattering the Myths of Military Related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder"

Wednesday, Nov. 7 — "Women Veterans: The Archetype, the Stereotype and the Reality"

"Our goal in veterans student services is to provide our veterans with the assistance and support they need to achieve at Cal State Fullerton," said Ward. "I see the students who come to our center, and they are a tremendous group of young men and women. There's no doubt in my mind that many of them will accomplish amazing things in their lifetimes."

By: Valerie Orleans, 657-278-4540

Tags:  EventsTitan Pride