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News Contact:
Cathy Summa-Wolfe
, Executive Director
Communications, Community Relations, and Advancement
415.485.9528

College of Marin Opens New Student Veterans Center

More than 100 veterans register with help of GI assistance

Kentfield, CA— September 24, 2012 —College of Marin student veterans have a new office on campus to connect with college and community resources, study and get a reprieve from civilian life.

Furnished with desks, computers, printers, a sofa, and a television, the new College of Marin Veterans Center will be a venue where veterans can receive support, link to services and relax in the familiar banter of a military life.

“We are delighted to be able to provide our student veterans with a place where they will find the support they need to transition to civilian life and be successful in college,” said College of Marin Superintendent/President Dr. David Wain Coon.

The public is invited to attend an official ribbon cutting at 2 p.m. on Oct. 10. The Veterans Center is in the Student Services Building, Room 112, Kentfield Campus. Dr. David Wain Coon, Superintendent/President, and Gabriel Carsillo, Veterans Association president, will be among the speakers. Refreshments will be provided.

“I think it’s great we have a place to call our own,” said Jonathan Deras, 24, a criminal justice student who served two tours abroad as a U.S. Marine. Deras is vice president of the Veterans Association Club on campus. “There are more people showing up. We are able to help them with information they need to get started.”

About 30,000 men and women leave the military and return to California each year, a number that is expected to increase dramatically as the war in Afghanistan winds down and the military downsizes. College of Marin has about 100 student veterans. While many have signed up for education benefits under the enhanced GI Bill, many veterans need additional assistance to start their lives as students and civilians.

“This is a population that is trying to transition into the college community and the population at large,” said Dr. Arnulfo Cedillo, director of Student Affairs and Health Center, “They come with special challenges and need to navigate a very complicated process. This center provides students with the opportunity to meet with veterans who have gone through it and link to college and community services that can help them succeed.”

The adjustment is challenging, said Gabe Carsillo, 29, who is one of two student veterans keeping the center doors open as part of a work-study program. Carsillo served eight years in the National Guard and the Army Reserves in the U.S. and Iraq and is preparing to enter the nursing program at College of Marin.

“You’re like a different breed,” Carsillo said. “You’ve dealt with stressful situations. You’re used to a lifestyle which is totally mind-blowing to most people. When you’re gone from holding a gun for four years and being told what to do to going to school, it can be very cumbersome and very scary for people. Here (at the new Veterans Center), you’re just one of the guys and girls you used to serve with.”

The center was funded in part by a $5,000 grant from the College of Marin Associated Students, a $1,200 grant from the College of Marin Foundation and college in-kind services for the renovation of the office. The office is furnished with desks, chairs, a sofa, three computers, two printers and a television.

For more information about the Veterans Center, call 415.457.8811, ext 7782.

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