By Maureen Flores
Pulse Staff Reporter
Presented the military-friendly campus award for the past four years, Palo Alto’s Veterans Affairs Program provides academic assistance to veterans and active military personnel.
The program assists all veterans and their eligible dependents with financial, registration and advising assistance. When it comes to education, the program maintains strict guidelines for each student. Certified officials on campus create degree plans to help keep students on the right track to graduation.
“Our office is split up in two,” said Liz Ortiz, Veterans Affairs advising support specialist. “We have two academic advisors, and Lori and myself are certified officials through the VA. We provide services for veterans and their eligible dependents who are using Veterans Educational Benefits.”
PAC’s program strives to provide a great campus experience for all students by influencing community involvement. VA students participate in social events throughout the year, including PACfest. Veterans believe it is important to stay engaged in social activities and meet new people within their community.
Of the nearly 5,000 institutions of higher learning in the U.S., just 2,383 have been designated military-friendly. Palo Alto’s VA serves approximately 800 students, which makes up nearly 10 percent of the school’s population. The advisors and officials for the VA are attentive and believe it is important to maintain a good relationship with each student. For this reason, military students appreciate those on staff.
“I think our wait time is low. I think you are able to see an advisor right away, you are able to see a certified official right away. I think that if you have an issue that the veteran is able to see the coordinator right away, instead of having to make a schedule and make an appointment a week or two down the road,” said Vincent Bosquez, Veterans Affairs coordinator.
The advisors and certified officials in the VA program offer a personal connection to their students because they are also former veterans. Students feel a level of comfort because their shared backgrounds allow them to discuss certain issues that most people would not understand.
“I suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder [PTSD]. My first semester here, I was struggling. I didn’t have anyone to talk to, and that’s when I got hired on. I feel comfortable here. All the students who are having problems can always come and talk to us. They come here just to, you know, have fun and relax,” said Vincent Garcia, Veterans Affairs work-study.
The VA office offers a computer lab and printing services during office hours to assist veterans who need to get homework done. Supervisors also offer excellent hospitality by providing snacks and refreshments for military students. Palo Alto College maintains a recognized VA program with a caring staff who serve veterans with passion and excellence.
Veterans may follow the PAC VA’s social media accounts, including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, for updates and alerts.
For further questions and assistance, the Veterans Affairs office is located in the Palomino Center, Room 111. Their hours are Monday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Tuesday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and every first Saturday of the month from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.