Veteran’s Center open for business

Location gives aid to students in need, supplies information

By Jared Amdahl, Staff Writer

The new Veteran’s Center in SSC-110 has been put to use since it was opened on Aug. 14.
“Normally veterans will come here just to ask questions or find a good place to get started registering for classes,” lead Admissions and Records assistant Trinidad Ledesma said. “We’re tailoring to a specific audience (veterans) and generally it begins with questions or assistance with paperwork and ed plans.
He said it differs from the Welcome/Transfer Center because the information has a slant toward veterans.
Veterans must go through a check process in order to verify that they are actually veterans. Once they have been certified, the college can assist them.
Representative from the Veteran’s Service (VS) Office in Martinez Jenna Galvan-Speers said that having a veteran’s center on campus helps tackle difficulties veteran students may have along the way.
“The process for certification is quite specific, and with the amount of information that follows along, help along the way is a beneficial thing,” Galvan-Speers said.
The Veteran Center office is open on Tuesday from 10 a.m.-1 p.m., Wednesday from 1-5 p.m. and Thursday from 8 a.m.-2 p.m.
Two Admissions and Records workers help operate the room during those hours to help aid Director of Admission and Records Catherine Fites, who is also the current Contra Costa College veteran certifying official.
Army veteran and film studies major Daniel Shrigley said he knew the Veteran’s Center was the first place he should go for his first semester signing up for classes at CCC.
“I just started coming here,” Shrigley said. “I’m interested in finding out if there are any filming or survival classes I can register for, so I figured this was the place to come to.”
Before contacting the Veteran’s Center, Shrigley decided to make contact with representatives at CCC, to gain more information, he said.
He said he arrived at the office on a Thursday at 9 a.m. — during Veteran’s Center hours — to find a closed door with nobody inside and no hours posted, but received help after asking around the SSC.
“It is really hard to have a successful Veteran’s Center on campus when there isn’t someone that is able to dedicate the proper amount of time (to it),” Galvan-Speers said. “In my opinion, and from what I have noticed around the area is, if you want to have a successful Veteran’s Center, it should be open from the time students arrive, to the time they leave.”
After visiting the Veteran’s Center here at CCC, the process leads students to the VS Office in Martinez or to the branch office in Richmond where veterans can learn exactly what benefits they are eligible for.
The VS Office then helps veterans complete a GI Bill application for either Chapter 30 or Chapter 33 entitlements, which determine the amount of money a veteran will receive for education.
The office then submits the veteran’s application to the VS educational benefits center in Muskogee, Okla.
Ledesma said, “Once they are certified they come back to us and we’re able to register them for classes.”