Military veterans have unique challenges when it comes to returning to civilian life, and particularly when they return to school. They’re older than many students and have experienced very different job environments. With Veterans Day approaching, this is a good time to remind vets of the services on campus and a special alumni association devoted to CSUN grads who are former military members.
“We say that the military does a great job of building you into the soldier that they want you to be,” said Art Garcia,’15 (Management), MBA ’22 (Business Administration) and U.S. Army veteran. “But it doesn’t do the greatest job of returning you back to the civilian world and reintegrating back into society.” said Garcia.
Garcia served as a PATRIOT launching station operator-maintainer, in the 108th Air Defense Artillery brigade under the 18th Airborne Corps. He is vice president and one of the co-founders of CSUN’s Veterans Alumni Association chapter. He also served as president of the CSUN Student Veteran Organization while he was a student.
“One of the core values in the army was selfless service. So I look at my journey and how difficult it was for me to transition and all the things that I had to do. I can’t help but reach out and help the next class of student veterans after me.” said Garcia.
At CSUN, veterans make up a small portion of the student-body. Despite their small population, CSUN recognizes the challenges veterans face and has support systems in place to help make their journey less daunting.
The Office of Veterans Affairs helps military-connected students, such as veterans or reservists and veterans’ dependents with the admissions process and also with applying for education benefits. The office is located in Bayaramian Hall.
The Veterans Resource Center (VRC), located in the USU, was created in 2012 to support the academic, professional and personal success of its student veterans. The Veterans Resource Center has a number of social get-togethers and also provides a variety of services ranging from mentoring programs, career fairs and resume-building workshops.
The Student Veteran Organization (SVO) is a student-led veterans association on campus. The SVO aims to help veterans transition from military to student life at CSUN by
organizing events for students to mingle and make friends.
Garcia says both the SVO and VRC are very helpful to students who are currently enrolled, but what about after graduation?
The Veterans Alumni Association Chapter (VAA) was created in 2017 by those who wanted to stay connected after finishing school.. As its vice president, Garcia said the group continues to help other veterans after they graduate.
“I’m a business major, so I’ve learned how to do resumes and dress for interviews, or how to go out and market yourself,” said Garcia. “But what if that veteran isn’t a business major, or might just need some help? And that’s where we decided to start the Veterans Alumni Association chapter.” said Garcia.
The chapter currently has 100 active members. The group has ties with not only the general CSUN Alumni Association, but is also dedicated to working with other military organizations on campus that aim to help veterans.
“The fight doesn’t stop when you take the uniform off. There’s so many things that veterans need after they transition out of the military, back to the civilian world. So to me, this is still a fight that’s ongoing.” said Garcia.
Garcia said encouraging veterans to participate in campus-life helps CSUN adapt to the needs of its veteran students. As more veterans engage in campus organization like SVO or VAA, CSUN can move towards becoming a veteran-active campus.