Community learns about veterans resources


Kevin Perez/The Skyline View

American Legion volunteer, Ana Garcia, talks to a Skyline College student about the non-profit organization’s services and programs during the Veterans Resource Event in Skyline College’s Fireside Dining Hall on Mar. 10, 2016.

Skyline College’s first ever Veterans Resource Event ignited discussion between representatives, veterans, and students alike in the Fireside Dining Hall on March 10, 2016.

It was evident that Program Services Coordinator of the Veterans Resource Center, Gina Ciardella, went to great lengths with both the on campus and off campus communities while coordinating this event. There was a good turnout of students and community members that came together to observe and learn about the different organizations.

“I can say it’s a great thing,”Jeff Hoe, Vietnam combat veteran, said. “It’s trying to bring all the resources together in one spot it’s needed because the advertisement of all the resources, there really isn’t any. Vets no matter what era are going to have difficulty beginning to access this type of stuff and, this is a good thing.”

The event offered a communal environment for professionals to relay information about their respective organizations. Vocational rehabilitation counselor Jennifer Dunn says that it’s good for the community to see what resources are accessible to all veterans.

“We get not only veterans that are going to Skyline College, but other students aware because, you know, students could have friends that are veterans or family members,” Dunn said.

Dunn was one of five professionals in particular that were highlighted in a panel which allowed them to introduce themselves and explain what their organization could do for veterans and dependents of veterans.

“Some have greater challenges than others,” Kevin Graves, Bay Area local interagency coordinator of the California Department of Veterans Affairs, said. “Some have greater challenges than others. Those that don’t can help those that do, and they can share, and having an environment that is dedicated to veterans is extremely important.”

After the panel students and veterans were welcomed to browse the various community resources tables and also the veterans transfer representatives. There were over 30 tables of representatives for their respective organization or school, at the ready to speak to students and gladly answer any questions.

“I hope some vets come over,” Hoe said. “We have had a couple to get involved and get the benefits they deserve.”

In fact, some of the community services did see successful results. American Legion, a non-profit organization founded to serve veterans, was able to gain several new members at their post 409 location in San Bruno.

“I wish they had done this when I got out, you know, but yeah it’s really neat,” Commander of American Legion post 409, Lonnie Sopko, said. “We’ve picked up a few members for American Legion, so it turned out pretty cool.”

After an informative day that benefits both the veterans and organizations wanting to help them, future events held in support of veterans and the Veteran Resource Center are promising.