New Veterans Center opens on campus

by Staff

Antonio Zaragoza / Staff Photographer

SDSU has one of the largest veterans education programs in the US

By Antonio Zaragoza, Contributor

Only three years ago, the San Diego State Veterans Center consisted of a small walk-up window inside the registrar’s office.

In 2008, a new location was established in the Education Building and now, SDSU boasts one of the largest veterans education programs of any campus in the U.S. The Veterans House on Fraternity Row and a new veterans center located in Student Services serves more than 1,000 veteran students.

SDSU received a $100,000 grant in 2008 from the Wal-Mart Foundation to support the university’s student veterans and Troops to College program, initiated by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2006. The Troops to College initiative aims to get more veterans into California universities.

With the number of veterans attending SDSU growing each year, the need for a more robust veterans program and larger office facilities has also grown. SDSU President Stephen L. Weber has made veterans’ issues a top priority during his tenure.

“It’s such a tribute to these veterans,” Weber said. “Because at the end of the day it says that there is a community here that really is in support of these veterans and wants them to feel welcome, and this veterans center is the way to do it.”

The new offices include larger accommodations for staffers, which consist of student veterans. Also on staff is Joan Putnam and Natacia Cordle, on-site VetSuccess counselors, a program unique to only a handful of universities in the country.

Philanthropist Charles Hostler, along with his wife Chin-Yeh, was also honored at the event celebrating the opening of the center, with the dedication of the Ambassador Charles Hostler Conference Room located inside the new facility. Also inside is a lounge named “the bunker” where students can relax or study during the day.

Guest speakers included Student Veteran’s Organization President Erika Korb, Veterans Coordinator Nathaniel Donnelly, Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs Sandra Cook, Weber, Congressman Bob Filner D-CA and retired USMC Col. Bucky Peterson.

Filner co-sponsored the 21st Century G.I. Bill, which provides new benefits for veterans serving in the armed forces after the Sept. 11 attacks. Filner spoke of the lack of support for veterans coming home from Vietnam and emphasized the importance of wide support for veterans who are returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.