San Diego Daily Transcript - UC San Diego dedicates new Student Veterans Resource Center
Katie Groenendyke - University of California San Diego’s student veterans now have a home on campus, at a 1,600-square-foot new Student Veterans Resource Center.
The center was dedicated Thursday. Students and faculty became emotional as they spoke about the need for this center and the resources it will provide.
“There’s a lot of negativity toward veterans. And veterans don’t really like talking about it at all,” said Richard Gilbert, ex-officio of the Student Veteran Organization and a former Marine sniper. “But with a place like this, we’ll get to do that.”
The $260,000 renovated property contains a kitchen, computer room, meditation space, pool table, couches and an office for a full-time coordinator. The center is on the second floor of the original student center, in the former office of The Guardian campus newspaper. The school is interviewing coordinator candidates.
“They’ll have an office up there and the job will be to work full-time with the student veterans and providing community ties between them and San Diego and the veterans in the larger San Diego area,” said Alan Houston, vice chancellor for student affairs.
Aside from providing veterans with academic and career resources, the center will be a place for student veterans to relax and connect with other veterans.
“It’s going to be a place where student veterans can come together and swap [combat] stories, talk about academics, and just really begin to foster a sense of community as opposed to being spread out all over campus like we are today,” said Dennis Garland, president of the Student Veterans Organization. “When you’re surrounded by people who don’t necessarily understand some of the experiences who shape who we are today, it can be a somewhat lonely and isolated experience.”
UCSD has 251 students who are veterans and active-duty military, compared to 221 last year. Prior to the center’s creation, the only resources available to student veterans were through the Student Veterans Organization, which had no office.
Billiekai Boughton, the Student Veteran Organization adviser, was awarded the 14th annual UCSD Veteran of the Year Award. Boughton was credited with pushing for the center’s creation for the past two and a half years. Richard Gilbert, ex-officio of the Student Veteran Organization and a former Marine sniper, received the UCSD Student Veteran of the Year Award. State Assembly Majority Leader Toni Atkins, D, San Diego and U.S. Rep. Scott Peters also spoke at the ceremony.