Raymund Golez, vice president of the CSUEB Student Veterans Organization, consults with a Veterans Affairs representative at one of their club events.
In the past year, admissions officials have noted a nearly 60 percent jump in the numbers of veterans enrolling at Cal State East Bay, a trend they primarily attribute to changes to the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
The new Post-9/11 GI Bill, which went into effect in August, entitles participants to a percentage of the cost of tuition and fees, a monthly housing allowance and a yearly books and supplies stipend of up to $1,000 per year, based on their length of active duty service.
“We currently have 91 students requesting the Post-9/11 GI Bill,” says Deborah Hansana, records specialist and veterans affairs coordinator for Cal State East Bay. “Approximately half of those students are new for this academic year.”
A Veteran Welcome Reception will be held at 4 p.m. Nov. 10 in the New University Union, Multipurpose Room 1001 A on the Hayward Campus. The keynote speaker will be Captain Brian Marvin, U.S. Coast Guard Force Readiness Command.
Veterans like Jason Campbell, 24, think the GI Bill changes represent a dramatic improvement.
“It allows veterans to focus on academics and not worry about finding employment, especially in a down economy,” said Campbell, a sophomore studying international studies and French.
Campbell served in the U.S. Marine Corps for four years before coming to CSUEB to complete his studies in hopes of someday working for the United Nations.
After a stressful first year of transitioning between military and academic life, Campbell worked in Thailand as a logistics manager during a three-month summer program. When Campbell learned that the Post-9/11 bill was signed into law in July 2008, he decided to wait a year before returning to CSUEB so he could use the new benefits.
Campbell is president of CSUEB’s Student Veterans Organization, which was formed two years ago and helps veteran students transition into civilian life through social events, discussions and community service projects.
“We just established the mentorship program for members,” says Raymund Golez, SVO vice president. “Student veterans that have been here longer mentor new first-time college student veterans. Often, former military personnel are more comfortable talking with other former military personnel.”
In addition to the mentor program, Campbell is creating service learning programs, which allow members to assist organizations like Team In Training and Alameda Point Collaborative with grant writing, fundraising and Web site maintenance.
Other changes to SVO include creating a blog where members can communicate with each other and check the calendar events.
“Veterans are an underrepresented segment of the population,” Campbell says. “Bringing more veterans to campus brings a group of people with different experiences, insights and ideas.”