Veteran and Saddleback student Sean Coueuas, 27, business, receives info on troop transition programs at the Veterans Resource Fair. (Sean Lara/Photo Editor)
On campus, there are two different groups that are specifically devoted to veterans; the VETS Program and the Veterans Club.
Terence Nelson, co-advisor of the Veterans Club, is the assistant dean of counseling and oversees five programs.
One of the five programs is the Veterans Education and Transition Services (VETS), which acts as a stepping stone for veterans, active duty military, and dependants.
“Though the program is only one year old, VETS has been recognized by the State Senate and Assembly for our work,” Nelson said.
Last week on Thursday, Sept. 23, the Veterans Club hosted their first resource fair of the year, informing veterans about the guidance and support they can receive.
“The club meets twice a month and has been quite active. Members not only used the Resource Fair on Thursday, but also volunteered for the event. Service is quite important to us,” Nelson said.
Nelson believes the campus has a lot to offer to veterans, allowing them to have a helping hand.
“We provide counseling, a space to build community on campus, special events, and a Veterans Service Officer (VSO),” Nelson said.
The veteran’s club has always had many goals , one of them including the way they work with their members.
“The goal is to increase the college community’s understanding of the needs and challenges that returning veterans face while building a sense of community among our student veterans in order to increase peer-to-peer support and advocacy,” Nelson said.
Bryson Medlock, 32, software engineering, served in the United States Marine Corps from 1999 to 2003 and is now vice president of the Veterans club.
One of the club’s goals is to make veterans aware of the help they can get while achieving a post secondary education.
“A lot of veterans don’t know the benefits they are entitled to. Some do know, but have no clue on how to get started,” Medlock said.
Hoping to shape a comfortable transition for those who want to accomplish success, one of the club’s fundamental ideas is peer-to-peer support.
Medlock said he found his transition from active duty status to civilian life difficult.
“Sometimes it takes us awhile to understand civilians and civilian life after being immersed in military life for four or more years,” he said.
Throughout his involvement in the club, Medlock hopes to help veterans achieve their goals without running into the problems he had along the way.
“Our purpose is to provide a fellowship of like-minded individuals in order to create a network of student veterans to provide and enhance professional and leadership development,” Medlock said.
Anthony Belot, one of the club members, graduated with a political science major and served in the Marine Corps.
Encouraging veterans to excel in their academic life, Belot thinks it is important to participate in extra-curricular activities like club life.
“It ensures a competitive resume during the application process [for] vets intending to transfer to a UC, Cal State, or private school,” he said.
The club’s support, however, goes beyond just the campus of Saddleback.
“We [also] support families and our brothers and sisters still on active duty here and abroad,” Medlock said.
There are a number of opportunities and resources that come along if one chooses to get involved, Merlock said.
“We have access to military scholarships, camaraderie with fellow veterans, internships, and work hand in hand with the Vets center,” Medlock said.
The club also has a Facebook page; it can be found as “Saddleback College Veterans Club,” and contains all of their upcoming events for those who want to attend.
“We are doing our best to get all the vets involved and would love for everyone to come out and support these events,” Medlock said.
Another way to become a part of the club is by visiting the VETS Center or sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Our nation’s heroes deserve the best and this not only comes from the institution and its staff, but also from other Veterans who have successfully transitioned back to civilian and college life,” Nelson said.