UC San Diego offers great opportunities for student veterans. Besides our top-notch academic and research opportunities, our military-affiliated student population is large enough to get the visibility and resources we need to provide critical services for our students, and yet not so big that we can’t provide individualized attention to each of our students. We currently have about 1,000 military-affiliated students on campus, and a very comprehensive support network through our staff, faculty, alumni, and community partners. We also work closely with our sister UC campuses and our colleagues at other California public institutions, so our students can get involved in regional and state-wide conversations and advocacy, network with intercollegiate peers, and participate in system-wide veteran events.
Student veterans bring a wealth and depth of knowledge, skills, perspective, and initiative to the campus, but the culture shock of academia can be a rough transition. As a country, we are truly indebted to our service members and veterans, and we owe it to them to make sure they get the benefits that we promised them when they took that oath to defend and protect us. I can’t do what they’ve done, but I can help make sure that our students get the benefits they’ve earned, and that our campus is providing the support they need to be academically successful. It’s a small thing, but it’s my way of trying to pay back some of that debt.
The Student Veterans Resource Center is a safe space for military members, veterans, family members, and allies to connect with each other and “pull back” or “regroup” when the stressors of campus life get overwhelming. It also serves as the switchboard for campus-wide and community-based programs that serve this population but are housed in other departments. Most students, and especially our veterans, benefit from a three-pronged campus support model that includes social support, academic support, and transitional support during times of deployment, as well as the transition into and out of our campus community. UC San Diego has a wide net of collaborative programs and resources that address all of these areas.
The SVRC provides social and study space, including a quiet study room, computers and printing, comfortable furniture, a pool table, a refrigerator and microwave, lockers, whiteboards, etc. We have a meditation room for students to relax, meditate, or even take a quick nap. We also have a private office where we can provide drop-in counseling services from Counseling and Psychology Services, the Office for Students with Disabilities, Academic Enrichment Programs, Career Services, our campus veterans benefits coordinator, and community service providers, including representatives from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Campus programs that are managed through the SVRC include a military-affiliated student orientation, a special graduation ceremony, peer mentors, workshops, career development activities, and community outreach. The SVRC is also home to UC San Diego’s undergraduate student veteran organization and veteran staff association.