Connecting at the new Veteran Center on the Irvine campus
The Veteran Center on the Irvine campus opened its doors to students last week, starting with an open house and information session for new students.
The center is the physical version of the virtual Veteran Center available to Brandman students and alumni in all locations at https://www.brandman.edu/veteranresources.
"It was a great opportunity to meet veterans in person and tell them about the services we provide," said Nirmala Sharma, associate vice chancellor for Military and Student Services.
Amy Repp, the program coordinator for Military Services and the center, welcomed the new students. Joining her were representatives from the Career Development Center and the Office of Accessible Education as well as Dean of the School of Business and Professional Studies Glenn Worthington, Ed.D., and Professor Sam Bresler, Ph.D., both military veterans.
"We have tried to create a comfortable and functional space for our students' convenience. We want to encourage student veterans to stop by any time before class for connection, campus and community resources, coffee, drinks and snacks," said Repp. "We recognize that transitioning between civilian life, active duty and the academic world can often present challenges and uncertainty."
It didn't take the students long to start seeking answers.
"Three or four students had questions about benefits that I was able to answer right away," said Jennifer Dean, Military Services manager.
"Jennifer Dean is tremendously knowledgeable and was able to provide significant direction and clarification for many of our students. Several students commented to me about how much they appreciated her assistance," said Repp.
Loren O'Connor, Ph.D., assistant vice chancellor for Accessible Education, said he was also able to talk to students individually as well as in his presentation about the Office of Accessible Education.
Veterans visiting the center included one who had been out of the military for 20 years and one who was in transition from active to reserve duty. They shared stories about where they served and about taking classes.
During the information session, the students were particularly happy to hear about the Yellow Ribbon program that helps bridge the gap in education benefits and allows student veterans to take classes all year, said Sharma.Veteran Programs
The center is outfitted with flags from every branch of military service, comfortable chairs and a large map showing where various students and staff have served. Before the presentations by various departments and staff members, the new students spent time talking about their military and student experiences.
"It really felt like they were connecting," said Sharma, and that is as important as the services the university provides.
"My hope is for our Veteran Center to be a place where our student veterans feel supported and comfortable," said Repp.
The Veteran Center is open from noon to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and by appointment on Mondays and Fridays. Sharma said she hopes they'll be able to expand the hours by hiring through the university's work-study program.
Services provided through the center include:
- Information about education benefits
- Career exploration
- Skill development
- Academic assistance
- Accessibility services
- Peer support
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