Veteran Resource Center offers help to veterans

Founded in 2015 in the newly renovated Student Union, the Ahmanson Veteran Resource Office has become a guidepost and home to many student veterans on campus as they made their transition out of the military and into California Lutheran University.

“This has been like an integration center.  It’s made it a lot easier to meet people here at school,” said Marine Corps veteran Brian Olex on the Veteran Resource Center.

Some student veterans, such as Clarissa Moreno who was in the Army, also feel that the Veteran Resource Center has given them a new sense of comradery like they used to have in their respective branches of the military.

“I felt like I was part of something again and I was missing that before.  It’s hard to relate to other students that don’t know what you’ve been through, so I feel closer to them in that brotherhood sense,” Moreno said.

The Veteran Resource Center also gives some veterans a place of belonging.

“Before we had this resource, some of the other veterans would just sit around or they would go sit in their cars because they weren’t really sure what it was like to be a student. A lot of the transition is coming out of the military,” said Navy veteran Fernan Diamse.  “Having this office, having something to go to, having resources here especially cause we’re different—it’s a little different than your typical student; it definitely gives us that boost.”

Student and Air Force veteran Michael Diaz also said that he felt that the community has been an added bonus to his Cal Lutheran experience.

“It’s been very welcoming.  When I came to visit, I stopped by the Veteran Resource Center and everyone was so nice and so polite and willing to help walk me through every process of enrollment,” Diaz said.  “It’s my home here at school—it’s my second home now.”

The Veteran Resource Center has also helped connect current student veterans with new student veterans coming into campus.

“We speak a different type of language.  We understand each other.  Things that we reference are not the same things we can reference in class,” Diamse said.  “It’s nice to have that sense of family here. You don’t have to come in here, but it’s always good to know it’s there.”

On top of the resources it provides to student veterans on campus, the Veteran Resource Center works to help incoming student veterans join various activities such as sports and clubs. They offer assistance in getting classes and planning schedules.

“I think the initial transition for most veterans is a little intimidating and a little scary, but once everything kicked in, it’s been a smooth process,” Diaz said.

Student veterans accredit the Veteran Resource Center for helping them to stay on top of their schooling and their classes, as well as helping them to find work-study jobs.

“I needed to be baby-stepped through the process of transitioning ’cause I was so lost. Without this office I don’t think I would’ve gotten everything I needed to get done done, or I would’ve, but I would’ve been really stressed about it,” said Marine Corps veteran Matthew Younkers.

Diamse said that the Veteran Resource Center greatly helped his transition from the military to now being a student.

“I’m still transitioning.  It’s been rough.  After 14 years in the military I had to relearn how to learn, relearn how to school, relearn how to talk to people that weren’t military,” Diamse said.

Diamse said that everyday life and its structure is different from that in the military.

“In the military, there were those ‘have to dos,’ but here, it’s a choice, and having this office helps tremendously,” Diamse said.

Alexa Barnes