March 12, the Antelope Valley College Board of Trustees approved the establishment of a Veteran’s Resource Center on the Lancaster, Calif., campus.
The center, which will be started with $5,500 provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs, will service the estimated 500 student veterans attending the college and dependents of veterans.
The center will be set up in the Student Services building (SSV 126) that is currently used as office space for the Veterans Affairs Program. Upon completion, the renovated space will host a bank of computers, a print and copy center, and a small lounge. The space will be utilized by students to file for various benefits, complete homework assignments or even hold Veterans Military Club meetings.
While the Veterans Affairs Program already gives students referrals for the services they may need, the opening of the center will provide a place to invite representatives from various veterans’ service organizations to visit the AVC campus. The Veterans Affairs Program has also received the approval for six VA work studies positions, five of which have already been filled. The positions are granted to students taking nine or more units and using a G.I. bill benefits.
“I feel like we’re getting more support from people above me,” said Veterans Affairs Program Coordinator Edward “Ed” Arndt. “It’s not that it wasn’t there before, but we’re actually seeing it now.”
According to Arndt, the center will service an “eclectic mix” of veterans from 18-year-old active reservists to vocational rehab veterans that served during the Vietnam era.
Arndt attributes his ability to relate to the veteran students on campus because he is a veteran himself.
He began pursuing his education directly following his Army service during Operation Desert Shield/Storm – the first Gulf War.
“I didn’t want anything to do with veterans or the military for many years [after his service],” said Arndt. “I found out fairly early into my career here that I’ve been missing this for a long time … if I didn’t have this job I would want to do something to help veterans some other way; that’s the rewarding part for me.”
Arndt makes it his personal goal to reduce the stress of applying for benefits as much as possible. The resource center will not only help reach that goal, but also create a “relaxed, comfortable and safe” environment for student veterans. “Going to school is hard enough,” said Arndt, “Then trying to re-acclimate to the civilian world – that makes it doubly hard. I wish I could do more.”