Cornered veterans

State of current services deters student involvement

Out of roughly 6,000 students currently enrolled in classes at Contra Costa College only 86 of them are veterans of the United States military.

And the modest number of veterans on campus reflects in the effort CCC has put into creating resources that cater to these students.

Limited services and a sheer lack of space offered to veterans on campus is hindering CCC’s help to these students in comparison to the other two colleges in the district.

The only designated place for veterans to get help signing up for classes or submitting forms from Veterans Affairs, which is needed to receive financial benefits for classes, is a tiny corner room located inside the Student Services Center — the Veteran’s Corner.

Furthermore, the only time veterans can use this space is for a few, sparsely-spread hours between Tuesday and Thursday.

The district is making a larger effort to promote all three colleges to veterans who may need assistance adjusting to an academic environment after serving their country.

And CCC currently finds itself offering the least amount of help of all of the colleges in the district.

During the most recent district Governing Board meeting on Feb. 25, the board asked the presidents from each college to give a brief status report of veteran activities on campus and the services provided to them.

Between the three, however, the only brief report was from CCC’s interim President Mojdeh Mehdizadeh.

“The number of vets is certainly limited in comparison to our sister colleges.” Mehdizadeh said to the board. “(The numbers of veterans at CCC) is chilling and I don’t think we are serving as many veterans as (CCC) should.”

Both Diablo Valley College and Los Medanos College have seen an increase of their veteran headcount since the fall of 2008. Their veteran enrollment stands at 422 and 833, respectively.

Both DVC and LMC college presidents correlated the increase in veteran enrollment with the completion of their new campus buildings, hiring dedicated counselors for veterans and the creation of a Veteran’s Club at each campus.

Currently, the services being provided to veterans at CCC are subpar at best.

This could be because half of the campus is under construction, limiting space for many potential resources, courses and clubs.

And with increases in veteran students at DVC and LMC after the completion of their new buildings, CCC must carefully recognize the upcoming opportunity to follow suit.

It is up to college administrators to work with the district to gain ideas on how CCC can increase veteran enrollment through facilities planning and outreach.

Time, however, is limited. The college must plan where in the new buildings can it accommodate a Veteran Center, before the veterans we have opt to go elsewhere.