The Orange County Board of Supervisors recognized the Saddleback College Veterans Education and Transitions Services (VETS) Center on Tuesday, September 13th for the department’s excellence in innovation in veteran services and for the positive impact it has on the lives of veterans. The recognition marks another accolade for the VETS Center, having just been named the recipient of the prestigious Dr. John W. Rice Diversity and Equity Award, one of the highest honors in the California Community College System.
Last week, the VETS Center partnered with Orange County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Lisa Bartlett to host the college’s 8th annual Veterans Resource Fair, which featured Assemblyman Bill Brough and Assemblyman Rocky Chavez, who spoke on civic leadership after military service. The event was also sponsored by Strength in Support, an organization that provides mental health services to military personnel, veterans and their families, individual and family therapy, and mentorship and education to address all areas of our heroes’ well-being. Additionally, over 70 exhibitors were in attendance.
Chairwoman Bartlett stated, “The Board of Supervisors recognizes the outstanding contributions the VETS Program has made in enhancing the lives of both our local veterans and their families. We further extend sincere best wishes for continued success in all future endeavors. It has been a pleasure partnering with the college and the VETS Program in serving our brave men and women who have sacrificed so much for our freedoms.”
Dr. Tod A. Burnett, president of Saddleback College, stated, “The county’s recognition of our VETS Center is an honor. With the help of our terrific faculty and staff in our VETS Center, we will continue to provide important support for student veterans, active military and dependents on our campus and in the county.”
Established in 2009, the Saddleback College VETS Center was the first fully functional veterans resource center in Orange County and the third in the state. Serving over 1,300 student veterans, active duty military, and dependents each year, the program seeks to bridge the cultural divide between civilians and our military through inclusion; full integration of student veterans in campus life; and by providing training to faculty, staff, and management. With dozens of non-profits and government agencies as partners, the VETS Center also offers counseling and support at the School of Infantry Joint Education Center at Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base. The thriving Student Veterans Council and Women Veterans Networking Group add to the resources for support on campus.
With the help of funding from a student equity grant awarded by the California Community College State Chancellors Office, the VETS Center will be able to expand its office to accommodate more students. Rose Adon, a U.S. Navy veteran and criminology major, noted that increasing the dedicated space for student veterans would have a positive impact on the experience of female veterans specifically. She said, “The VETS program is life changing. The staff genuinely care about your well-being and your success in and out of college. You can’t ask for a better team to help you succeed in your new life out of the service.”
For more information on the Saddleback College VETS program visit www.saddleback.edu/vets.