Club aims to support veterans education

By Cody Casares, Photo Editor

The Armed Forces Support Group (AFSG) is starting its first full semester as a club and has plans to assist veterans in their pursuit higher education after military service.

AFSG aspires to provide bus passes, gas cards, grocery cards, and even bridge tolls, to ensure that the veterans have everything they need to go to school, club president Leon Watkins said — who is a veteran himself.

“It’s a student body club that has been created to support veterans through their journey coming out of the military, going to school and graduating and going beyond,” he said.

ASU Vice President of Club Affairs Safi Ward Davis said, “The club was activated Oct. 6, 2015 and currently has five members.”

The club, however, has yet to hold its first official meeting, Watkins said.

As a result of being approved as a student body club late last semester, the club is currently working with member’s schedules to determine a convenient time to meet and pass on information about AFSG at the weekly Inter Club Council meetings, he said.

Even though the club has yet to conduct its first official meeting Watkins has started assisting veterans local to CCC.

“At this point for the spring semester veterans are given 10 percent discount at the Bookstore. Thanks to (Bookstore Supply Buyer) Nick Dunn,” Watkins said.

AFSG Faculty Adviser, and English professor, Michael Hassett said Watkins approached him last semester in search of filling the advisor position and he took the role.

Hassett said he is a veteran as well having served in Vietnam from 1968-69 as a Marine sergeant. “It’s veterans helping veterans,” Watkins said.

The club, however, is not exclusive to veterans, Watkins said.

“Anyone can be a member but the understanding is that members are here to support the veterans,” he said. “Everything we do is to go full circle back to the college to support veterans.

“We are attempting to support veterans to the point where we want to provide aide and camaraderie to where once the new Veterans Center opens it becomes a sort of USO.”

The USO is a non-profit organization that provides services such Internet access, food and entertainment to active duty servicemen and servicewomen as well as veterans. 

“It’s (AFSG) a good thing. I was at Long Beach City College after I got out and we had nothing back then.” Watkins said, “I was on my own.”

Watkins is also able to extend support for veterans regardless of their participation in the club by assisting them in the Veterans Corner office located in the Student Services Center.

“I’m here to support the veterans in getting through the paperwork, provide faculty for veterans to talk to and ensure that they are going in the direction of meeting their goals as far as pursuing higher education,” he said.