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    Veterans expected to receive new lounge

    Sept. 16, 2014, Palomar College Veteran Volunteer Jonathan Stroud (Marine Veteran) watches over the lounge. (Telescope Staff/The Telescope)

    Between the library and Student Union stands a white sign with a black and white hand pointing to the left. The sign reads, “Veteran’s Support Center is OPEN!”

    An open door stands across from the sign, leading to what appears to be a desolate hallway. The desolation is an illusion. Laughter and talking comes from beyond the door titled “Veteran’s Resource Center.”

    Inside, James Eugene, a 12-year-veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, sits behind a desk talking with a group of men and women of all ages. The room is small. There is seating for about 20 people for a college with about 1,600 veterans. There were ten veterans in the room, most of who were smiling and talking.

    A new veteran’s center is in the works. Ryan Williams, veteran’s service office director, said the new center will be more than four times bigger than the current one. It will include a study room, lounge, kitchen and counseling services. The new veteran’s center will be paid for by the college and is still being bid on.

    The new center will also house the veteran’s service office which is currently located in the Student Services Center. The new veteran’s center will be in the AA/ST building, a short walk between the Student Services Center and the MD building. This will make the newveteran’s resource center the place to go for all veterans needs and is scheduled to be opened in the summer of 2015.

    Eugene spends five days a week at the resource center both as a student and a worker.

    Eugene said he likes the resource center because “we all speak the same language.” He added that he is able to talk to fellow vets and not feel disconnected while he transitions from the Marine Corps back to civilian life.

    Student veteran Andy Garcia said he uses the veteran’s resource center on a regular basis and is going to Palomar College for a degree in business. Garcia plans to transfer to California State University San Marcos. He is a 28-year-veteran of the Marine Corps and president of the “Veteran Students Organization” at Palomar College.

    Eugene is concerned that many veteran students at Palomar don’t know about the resource center. “All of us are going through transitions,” he said. “Going to the veteran’s center has lots of advantages.”

    Eugene emphasized there are four computers that students can use, a big-screen television, comfortable seating, a math tutor and camaraderie that you can’t get in the classrooms. Eugene knows there are vets who go to class and then go home, just to return to the college later.

    “Those are the people we are here for,” he said, adding that veterans from every branch of service are welcome and are regulars at the center.

    Meghan Carlson, 24, a Marine Corps veteran, said she uses the Veteran’s Resource Center twice a week when she has classes throughout the day. Carlson plans on attending Old Dominion College in Virginia after obtaining an associate degree in math and science. Carlson said she is able to relate to her fellow veterans at the resource center.


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    Veterans expected to receive new lounge