With an estimated 2.2 million veterans residing in California, the state leads the nation in the number of veterans. That number is expected to increase dramatically as more military personnel serving in Iraq and Afghanistan complete their service.
The majority of these students enroll in a California community college. In 2010-11, more than 44,000 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.
A college education has become an absolute necessity for veterans returning to civilian life, and community colleges provide the majority of this education, as most veterans are ineligible for direct admission to the University of California or the California State University systems.
The California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office, the Faculty Association for California Community Colleges and the Foundation for California Community Colleges, with generous support from JP Morgan Chase, held the inagural California Community Colleges Veterans Summit in San Diego on Dec. 2, 2011. This one-day conference on serving student veterans was a tremendous success. Videos of each session can be found by clicking here and links to program materials can be found on the Faculty Association website.
The second veterans summit will be held Dec. 6-7 in Redwood City.
The Chancellor's Office recently completed a report outlining the myriad of programs and services designed to support student veterans throughout the system, an electronic version of the report can be found by clicking here.
The Chancellor’s Office received a second $75,000 grant from the Zellerbach Family Foundation to support the continuation of The Welcome Home: Creating a Campus Climate of Wellness for Returning Veterans project. The training program for faculty and staff is designed to increase awareness of military culture and the mental health needs of student veterans with a focus on integration of services.
Governor Jerry Brown recently created the Interagency Council on Veterans and Student Services & Special Programs Division Vice Chancellor Linda Michalowski represents the California Community Colleges on the council. The council's mission is "to identify and prioritize the needs of California veterans and coordinate the activities at all levels of government in addressing those needs.
Some useful links to resources
California Department of Veterans Affairs
The California Department of Veterans Affairs offers educational resources for veterans including educational benefits, postsecondary education, training and apprentice programs.
GI Bill Website
Visit this website to learn about educational benefits provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Post-9/11 GI Bill
The Post-9/11 GI Bill provides financial support for education and housing to individuals with at least 90 days of aggregate service on or after Sept. 11, 2001, or individuals discharged with a service-connected disability after 30 days.
College Fee Waiver Program
Children or spouses of U.S. veterans may get college fees waived if they attend a California community college, California State University or University of California campus.