"As we offer our sincere appreciation and respect to our veterans, to their families, to those who are still in harm's way, and to those we have laid to rest, let us rededicate ourselves to serving them as well as they have served the United States of America."
These words from President Barack Obama form part of the official presidential proclamation for Veteran's Day 2011, observed on Friday, November 11. While this will be a day off for many of us, it is important to remember that it remains a day 'on' for our nation's active and reserve duty military personnel.
The Statistical Information Analysis Division of the Defense Manpower Data Center puts the current level of active duty military personnel for the United States at 1,434,312 as of the end of June 2011. The division also lists the following deployment levels:
- 91,700 Operation New Dawn (in around Iraq as of June 30, 2011)
- 111,700 Operation Enduring Freedom (in/around Afghanistan as of June 30, 2011)
In addition, according to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs website the United States has more than one million personnel designated as ready reserve, defined as service members of the Reserve and National Guard who are subject to being ordered to active duty in time of war or national emergency.
Returning to the words of the president's proclamation: "We owe them a debt of honor, and it is our moral obligation to ensure they receive our support for as long as they live as proud veterans of the United States Armed Forces. This year, as our troops in Iraq complete their mission, we will honor them and all who serve by working tirelessly to give them the care, the benefits, and the opportunities they have earned."
The California Community Colleges offers centralized support of veterans in the CCC system through its Veteran Services unit, which is part of the Student Services division at the Chancellor's Office in Sacramento.
According to the Veteran Services website, California has an estimated 2.2 million veteran residents and this number is expected to increase significantly as more military personnel serving in Iraq and Afghanistan complete their service. In 2009, more than 26,600 veterans utilized education benefits at a California community college. In addition, there are an estimated 8,000 to 10,000 active duty personnel enrolled annually at community colleges across the state, not including dependents.
The Veteran Services website pages contain information on the programs and services designed to foster and support the success of student veterans and assist in the transition to civilian and student life. They also include several model community college programs that serve student veterans. Some of the major support efforts include the following:
- Model Programs (College Veterans Centers, Boots to Books, and "Road Home" Events)
- College Resources for Veterans
- Troops To College
- Welcome Home: Creating a Campus Climate of Wellness for Returning Veterans
The Welcome Home project is supported by grant funding from the Zellerbach Family Foundation. The training program for faculty and staff is about the mental health needs of student veterans and focuses on awareness and integration of services. A Welcome Home project training is scheduled for December 10th at the CCC Student Financial Aid Administrators Association annual conference in Sacramento.
Veteran Services will also participate in a Panel Presentation on Best Practices in Serving Student Veterans at the Community College League of California annual conference on November 19 in San Jose, and a Veteran's Summit with the Faculty Association of California Community Colleges is scheduled for December 2 in San Diego.
And since the most effective support often comes from veterans directly helping other veterans, the Veteran Services website also has a listing of local Veterans Outreach Services contacts at California community colleges statewide.<>
California Community Colleges Partners with the California Department of Veterans Affairs to Ease Vets Transition from Military Service to Civilian Workforce, CCC Chancellor's Office Press Release, 8 November 2011
Resource Centers Serve California Veterans, CCC TechEDge News, 7 June 2011
Troops To College Online Resources For Veterans, CCC TechEDge News, 1 June 2010
Sandoval Chagoya is the TechEDge Managing Editor and a Project Manager for the
California Community Colleges Technology Center and the California Virtual Campus.