Program assists veterans transition back to college life

Helping hands (Oliver Yu)

Amelia Rushbrook

Student veterans now have access to their own facility on campus.
The VETS center, not to be confused with the veterans’ office, is a development of the Veterans Education and Transition Services (VETS) program.

The center will offer programs and services for veterans, as well as a place to meet with other student veterans.

Adjusting to college life can be a challenge for veterans, especially those who have been in combat, said Terence Nelson, director of the VETS program, “They’re going from a structured environment to an unstructured environment … from an environment full of camaraderie to a college environment where they’re on their own.”

“We hope that the center will create a feeling of community for the veterans and help them make a smooth transition,” Nelson said. He emphasizes peer-to-peer events as the “most valuable” offered activities through the VETS program.

“There’s nothing better in terms of healing than talking things over with someone you have shared experiences with,” Nelson said.  As well as the peer-to-peer programs, the center will have a dedicated veterans’ counselor, and various specialized programs and services.

The VETS center will also be the base for the veterans’ club and it will work with the South Orange County Veterans’ Center to provide support groups and additional peer-to-peer programs.
 There are around 225 veterans currently enrolled at Saddleback, and with the Post-9/11 GI bill coming into effect on August 1, Nelson expects a major increase in that number.

“Ready or not, the veteran population will grow. We have to be readyto serve them,” Nelson said, “We are serving those who have served us.”

A grand opening for the VETS center is planned for the fall semester in conjunction with the unveiling of the veterans’ memorial.

“We’re not sure exactly when that will be,” Nelson said, “but it will be a pretty big event.”

Further information is available at or contact

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