Gavilan vets attend Student Veterans of America conferenceby Jan Janes on Feb 3, 2017
Four student veterans and their families attended the recent Student Veterans of America (SVA) conference, held January 5-7 at Disneyland in Southern California. The event gave Gavilan vets opportunities to network with student veterans across the country.
The ninth annual SVA conference attracted more than 1500 participants from colleges and universities nationwide. Across three days, with four general session speakers and 48 breakout sessions, student vets discussed how other campuses support their veterans. Gav students attending the conference were Jorge Gonzales, Chris Henderson, Ray Lopez and Jorge Sanchez-Jimenez.
Brooke Boeding, Jorge Sanchez-Jimenez and Ray Lopez attended the recent
Students Veterans of America conference and plan to expand services at Gavilan.
Accompanied by Gavilan College Disability Resource Center (DRC) staff Brooke Boeding and Dewitt Stuckey, the students explored opportunities for transitional, college and personal support to migrate back to civilian life and the educational environment.
"We need to reach out to the others," said Ray Lopez, "build and make things easier and better." Non-veterans don't always understand some of the issues vets deal with, the things they do.
Easing the transition to college and civilian life
Boeding, currently interim DRC associate dean, wants to link the Veterans Resource Center (VRC) and DRC to provide a one-stop shop of information and services. "We discovered, networking with other colleges, that Gavilan offers services other colleges aren't yet," she said.
Currently concluding her Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership, Boeding's research focused on the challenges veterans face returning to civilian life and pursuing educational goals. "The military model does not fit with the education model, so the education model needs to adapt and meet the needs of vets returning to college," she said. Some vets would rather go back on another tour of duty instead of figuring out the civilian world and its services. "The VRC can ease that transition."
Because vets tend to not want to self-identify, they can miss opportunities. According to Lopez, vets need to reach out to other vets, get them involved to build the VRC. "They all have great ideas waiting to get shared."
Breakout sessions at the conference covered topics ranging from building a veteran-aware campus and rights awareness to managing GI Bill resources and career building skills such as resume writing, using LinkedIn and researching job opportunities.
The Veterans Resource Center, located in the library building, welcomes all veterans
and offers extensive services for transitioning into the college environment.
Networking across vets, families and colleges
Networking opportunities at the conference, including discussions with members from area colleges, revealed new career openings. "I discovered in one of the sessions that there are companies which give opportunities to vets first," said Lopez.
At present, the state does not have money for funding vet services, so Gavilan is working to tap available local resources to help the center grow and offer expanded support.
More information about Gavilan's VRC is available at http://www.gavilan.edu/veterans