Vet Group Meetings Offer Opportunity to ‘Lend a Hand’

From+left%3A+Richard+Fly%2C+Steven+Whiffen%2C+Alesha+Whiffen%2C+Shaston+McNaspy%2C+John+Smith%2C+Jason+Santillan%2C+Pablo+Ortiz%2C+and+Eugene+Bernard+take+a+break+from+filling+out+VA+paperwork+to+pose+for+a+picture+at+the+Center+of+Excellence+for+Veteran+Student+Success+on+the+South+campus.+The+Center+hosts+biweekly+SVA+meetings+where+San+Jac+community+members+can+share+their+support+for+transitioning+veterans.+

Alejandra Cajero/San Jacinto Times

From left: Richard Fly, Steven Whiffen, Alesha Whiffen, Shaston McNaspy, John Smith, Jason Santillan, Pablo Ortiz, and Eugene Bernard take a break from filling out VA paperwork to pose for a picture at the Center of Excellence for Veteran Student Success on the South campus. The Center hosts biweekly SVA meetings where San Jac community members can share their support for transitioning veterans.

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The Centers of Excellence for Veteran Student Success on the three San Jacinto College campuses provide resources to ease the transition to college life for veteran students.

According to Eugene Bernard, the Veteran Student Success Coordinator on the South campus, “the whole purpose of the center is to process benefits for our veteran students.” There, they can find help with filling out paperwork, peer tutoring, and counseling.

The South campus Veteran’s Center is also home to the Student Veteran Association (SVA), an organization that according to the College’s website, offers “peer-to-peer networking for the needs of student veterans.”

SVA president Richard Fly said he is grateful the center “gives them (veterans) a chance to be around other veterans and meet people that are willing to lend a hand,” noting he experienced firsthand the tough transition from soldier to student.

The SVA invites all San Jac students to attend their next meeting March 2. The biweekly meetings inform students of the different ways they can support their veteran classmates, as well as the veterans from the larger community. Likewise, members can take advantage of meetings to voice concerns, ask questions, and pitch ideas for future events.

In March, the SVA will host a clothing drive, in addition to the canned food drive scheduled for the end of the semester. Furthermore, veteran students can look forward to visits from the Wounded Warrior Foundation and a representative from the DeBakey VA Medical Center.

“We don’t have many events on paper, but there is always something going on in the center,” Fly said.

Meanwhile, Fly noted if the SVA garners a larger membership, the group may initiate chapters on the other campuses in the San Jacinto College District. He said he urges students to join the SVA saying it is a “wonderful opportunity if you’re looking to better yourself and make others feel better.”

“Everyone is welcome,” Fly said. “There’s no limit on how to share your support.”

The March 2 meeting will take place at 11:45 a.m. in Room S8.2066, followed by a delayed meeting March 30 because of Spring Break. After March 30, the regular biweekly meeting schedule resumes.