Saddleback College and Irvine Valley College have signed a landmark Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to provide VetSuccess on Campus (VSOC) services to help veterans succeed in college and transition to employment in the civilian workforce. The partnership makes Saddleback College and Irvine Valley College two of fewer than 100 colleges nationwide to offer VSOC services. The colleges will continue to provide services for veterans and will host an experienced VA vocational rehabilitation counselor to assist students in achieving their educational and career goals through VA’s Post 9/11 GI Bill and other education benefit programs.
Supporting this effort will be faculty and staff at the Saddleback College Veterans Education and Transition Services (VETS) Center, the Irvine Valley College Veterans Services Center, VA Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Services, and VA Vet Center programs. Due in large part to a collaborative district-wide advocacy effort to enhance support services for returning military, the colleges of the South Orange County Community College District were sought out to host such a program. This will add to the colleges’ existing and highly regarded veterans services programs.
“This is a wonderful opportunity to enhance our services and reinforce our commitment to serving veterans as they transition back into the civilian world through our campuses,” said Gary L. Poertner, South Orange County Community College District Chancellor.
Dr. Tod A. Burnett, president of Saddleback College, stated, “This MOU strengthens our partnership with the VA and enables Saddleback to enhance the high-quality student support services offered for veterans, active military, and their families in our VETS Center by having a VA counselor directly on our college campus. It is a true pleasure for our college to offer such outstanding services for our veterans.”
“This MOU comes on the heels of the opening of our new dedicated IVC Veterans Services Center that provides a unique educational space designed to support active service members, veterans and military dependents. Adding a VA counselor dedicated to serving our students will only enhance our abilities to ensure our veterans get the best possible services while they are at IVC,” said Glenn R. Roquemore, president of Irvine Valley College.
Under the MOU, Saddleback College and Irvine Valley College will share one full-time VA vocational rehabilitation counselor, who will work directly with student veterans and their dependents. In addition to providing assistance in the transition to student life, the VA personnel will maintain close relationships with local VA Vet Centers and VA medical facilities and can refer student veterans for medical services and provide assistance for students who are applying for VA medical and nonmedical benefits.
Within this ground-breaking agreement, Saddleback College and Irvine Valley College will provide use of office space for VA personnel to provide services and assistance, inclusion of vocational rehabilitation counselors in new student programs, employment assistance, financial aid and service referrals, connection with psychological counseling and health services, services for students with disabilities, learning assistance, and expertise to VA on college student development and the college student experience. The VA vocational rehabilitation counselor will work in tandem with the colleges’ existing full time faculty veterans counselors to ensure each veteran coming to our district has access to every available service and an opportunity for academic and career success.