Members of the UCLA and CSUN Army ROTC post the colors at the opening of the CSUN Veterans Resource Center ceremony. Photo by Lee Choo.
Vincent Quinteros, a Marine Corps veteran, was lost when he began his studies at California State University, Northridge in 2011. He struggled with relating to other students, engaging with classroom peers and needed more information about educational benefits for veterans. Quinteros said there were limited services on campus
Quinteros said new veteran students won’t have the same struggles he experienced thanks to the opening of the Veterans Resource Center in the University Student Union on Sept. 12.
“When I began going to school again, I never imagined a place like the VRC,” said Quinteros, president of the Student Veteran Organization. “I want the VRC to become the first step in the student veteran journey through college, welcoming him or her to the university, showing (him or her) around campus and just being a place where student vets can hang out.”
The campus celebrated the grand opening of the facility at a ceremony that included free food, a bouldering competition and entertainment. All attendees were given yellow roses in honor of returning veterans and were encouraged to place them at the foot of the Matador Statue.
“CSUN proudly joins the country in honoring our men and women in uniform in the opening of this center,” said Debra Hammond, executive director of the USU.
While all CSU campuses provide veteran services, CSUN’s Veterans Resource Center is one of the few standalone centers systemwide. The VRC was opened with $120,000 from an anonymous donor and $67,000 from the Campus Quality Fee.
The center will serve the more than 600 student veterans, including reservists and military dependents, at CSUN. It will house the Veteran Peer Mentor Program, a support program for veterans transitioning from the military to academia. Through the program, current veteran students will share their experiences and tips with new student veterans. The VRC also will assist in connecting visitors to veteran organizations and employment opportunities.
“The VRC supports student veterans and veteran dependents, as well as educates the CSUN campus on veterans’ issues,” said Monteigne Staats Long, VRC coordinator during an interview. “CSUN is helping pave the way for other campuses that wish to develop VRCs.”
Faculty and staff veterans are also invited to utilize the veterans’ center for resources and referrals. VRC staff are planning to host workshops to assist faculty and staff with understanding and assisting veterans in their transition to academic life.
The VRC is open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., to all students, faculty, staff and community members who wish to utilize its services and resources. For more information, visit the VRC website.