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District first in region to provide veterans' ally workshop

Posted on: Mar 19, 2014 1:00:00 AM
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Contact: Della Elliott (619) 644-7690 della.elliott@gcccd.edu

A half-day seminar at Cuyamaca College Friday opened many eyes to the experiences facing today’s military veterans as they pack away their service uniforms to join the civilian world, often coming to community colleges to begin a new chapter in their lives.

The VET NET Ally Seminar, the brainchild of Marine Corps veteran and California State University, Long Beach administrator Marshall Thomas, drew about 60 employees of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District to focus on the needs of military service members and veterans enrolled at the Cuyamaca and Grossmont colleges. Cuyamaca College is the first college in San Diego and Imperial counties to present the seminar.

“Veterans are a large portion of our student population and we are happy they have chosen to come here,” Cuyamaca College President Mark Zacovic said in his welcoming comments.

More than 2,500 veterans and their dependents attend Cuyamaca and Grossmont colleges. The two colleges offer extensive services for veteran students, including priority registration, veteran resource centers, and counselors well-versed in the needs of veterans.

 The VET NET Ally seminar, which is held at community colleges and universities nationwide, is designed to develop networks of faculty, staff and administrators to create welcoming and supportive campus environments for military service members and veterans. Those who complete four hours of presentations, videos and panel discussions are given decals to display in their workspace to show they are allies to their institution’s student veterans.

The seminar was brought to Cuyamaca College after Marsha Gable, dean of counseling services, attended a workshop at the 2013 California Community Colleges Veterans Summit in Sacramento.

 “It was probably the most powerful training I have ever been through,” Gable said.

The seminar covered topics including the veterans’ experiences in the classroom; the military culture; reasons for joining the service; veterans’ issues in higher education and what it means to be a veterans’ ally. A question and answer period of a panel of student veterans capped the seminar.

Another seminar on mental health issues affecting combat veterans will be held at Cuyamaca College  March 28. “Welcome Home: Veterans on Campus” will focus on the mental and physical health and emotional transition of veterans to college. It will be open to the public and regional mental health experts.

vet-new-ally-decalA decal presented to those who complete the VET-NET Ally workshop. Posting of the decal at workplaces is encouraged.
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