State-wide initiative to serve student veterans

College staff members met to share best practices for serving veterans on college campuses.

The Ventura County Community College District Veterans Resource Center Coordinators from Moorpark College, Oxnard College and Ventura College met with managers from California Lutheran University, California State University, Channel Islands, and National University to discuss best practices for helping student veterans achieve success.  Leading the discussion was VCCCD Trustee Larry Kennedy, Chancellor Bernard Luskin and Vice Chancellor of Educational Services Rick Post, all United States Navy veterans.  The meeting included all of the cooperating higher education institutions in Ventura County that have a veteran’s center.

The VCCCD is leading a state-wide effort to expand and improve veterans’ services on college campuses.  Kennedy, Co-Chair of the Community College League of California Veterans Caucus, shared the Caucus goal to increase the organization’s membership of individuals and institutions to advocate on behalf of veterans and encourage state and federal support in funding for counselors and other needed services for student veterans. “Things were different when I returned from Vietnam,” stated Kennedy.  “Today’s students need more than VFW halls. In addition to academic support, they need re-entry and transitioning support.  We would like to see a Veterans Resource Center on every community college campus in the state,” Kennedy added.

Chancellor Luskin and members of the Board of Trustees, including Chair Bernardo Perez and Trustee Stephen Blum, attended the Association of Community College Trustees National Legislative Summit in Washington, DC, Feb. 13-16  to connect the CCLC Veterans Caucus with ACCT and national legislative staff.  Meetings are scheduled with representatives from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the U.S. Senate and other legislators to address issues specific to student veterans.

“With an estimated 1.8 million veterans residing in California, the state’s veteran population is the largest in the nation. Many of the increasing number of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan will look to one of the 113 community colleges as the most easily accessible and affordable educational options available. In fact, more than 61,000 veterans, and active duty service members, enrolled at a community college in 2013-14,” said Kennedy.

“The California Community Colleges are urging Congress to fund more counselors for veteran students and fund the Centers of Excellence for Veteran Student Success in the Higher Education Act,” explained Chancellor Luskin.

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