Gabriel Corona, 2012/2013 President
I would like to begin by welcoming back the traditional students back on campus and to welcome all the new veteran students to Vanguard University. In this first letter, I would like to give you my direction and vision that I have for the club during my term as president. I also would like to answer two questions: “Why a veterans club and what is in it for you?” But first let me start by giving you a background of how the club came to be by including my story.
I began attending Vanguard University in January 2011, I was recently laid off and decided to return to school. The idea was to restart my life with a new career and by transforming into a new person. This concept I had no idea at the time would lead me to being “born again.” I was not a Christian, but I had opened up to the idea to becoming more spiritual. My search for schools led me to Vanguard because of the Kinesiology program, and I came to visit the campus. This first visit was all I needed to make my decision to choose Vanguard. Vanguard met all the requirements; it was regionally certified, WASC certified, and most importantly it was full Yellow Ribbon. I was all set to continue my education. My thought entering this new phase of my life was that education would be the only thing I would receive. However, God had different plans for me. In my first semester through the reading of His Word and all the spiritual aspects that Vanguard offers, my heart finally accepted Christ’s invitation to live life through Him.
The first semester was difficult. I struggled getting into the college environment, and I felt alone. I was the “old man” on campus and I felt that these “youngsters” could not offer anything to me (I needed a few slices of humble pie). During this time, I saw an advertisement that the Veteran Resource Center was hosting an event for veterans. This sparked my interest because this was something that I could relate to. I showed up and met Brent Theobald, Justin Moschina, and Dominica Scibetta. The purpose was to gather all student veterans and to welcome them back home by assisting in the transition from military service member to civilian. Brent gave a presentation that talked about connecting our military experience with the skills required in the civilian sector. He spoke on how veterans struggle when returning to school and the struggle in landing employment. His vision was to form a club that would assist veterans in these areas. After that evening, I was all in. This was an opportunity for me to get involved in something. However, my attempts to gather veteran students failed, and it seemed like the Veterans Club was going to be only an idea.
Then Adrian Michael, was brought in as a student worker. He brought with him experience serving in the Student Government and in the Veterans Club at Saddleback College. He re-ignited the efforts of starting a veteran organization. A meeting with five veteran students was held. There was and understanding between Adrian and I that whoever showed up was going to be the future officers of the club. That is exactly what happened, we presented our ideas of the club they responded with interest and then in a typical military fashion they would be “volen-told” into the first Veterans Club officers. These were the officers who put together the open house, Veterans Chapel, lecture series, textbook library, and other programs last semester.
This fall semester we have elected officers that are committed in creating an organization that is focused on these three elements: faith, service, and community. This is the section when the “why” is answered. Faith is our foundation, and everything in the club is based on our Christian beliefs. We will develop programs that will give you an opportunity to grow in your faith journey, or to help others in their walk. As followers of Christ we have been given the mission to share the Gospel. The Veterans Club gives us this opportunity. We as veterans have the public’s interest, and this platform can be used to share the Gospel to fellow veterans who do not have Christ in their lives. The upcoming September 11th event, showing of the film “Taking the Hill” offers this opportunity.
We are committed to service. As veterans are natural volunteers. We made a choice to serve in the military, and most of us were not promised an easy life or riches. We did it because we felt that it was a good cause to be a part of. This club is offering you an opportunity to continue your service by serving in the community. In this upcoming semester we will be connecting with organizations that need volunteers. Serving in the military has given us tremendous life experiences that can be put to use in our communities such mentoring, and leading. There is a need for people who are willing to give up some of their time. We are reaping the rewards of veterans before us who have put in the work to establish organizations that help veterans, and their communities. It is time for the changing of the guard, we are the future. It is time to give the World War II era Veterans, and the Vietnam Veterans a break, and it is time for us to step-up.
We are committed to creating a community. The Veterans Club is a place where you will feel comfortable and welcomed. We are committed in creating an environment in the Veteran Resource Center that you can come in enjoy a cup of coffee, get a snack, receive prayer or pray for others, and make long lasting friendships. We want to give everyone a chance to be a part of the club. Everyone brings with them different skills, experiences, and interest that can be used to in this organization.
This is what is in it for you. The club is working in connecting veterans with employment, and internship opportunities. We go building relationships with many organizations that will help in these efforts. The upcoming open house there will be outside organizations brought in such as American Legion, VFW, AMVETS, EDD, Student Resource Departments, and other community service organizations. We want to raise funds to buy books to add to the book exchange program. The goal is to have enough money to purchase books so that club members never have to buy books out of their own pocket. We want to create Veterans Affairs Work Study opportunities in the Veterans Resource Center to employ veteran students. These are some of the goals we have set. The future outlook is to build within our group a network that can offer all these resources as we graduate and grow in our careers. The Veterans Club is going to be an organization where you can come in and get connected with resources regarding spiritual development, education, housing, employment, and medical care.
The Veterans Club gave me an opportunity to get involved and to be a part of a Christian community. It has given me a chance to volunteer, become connected to great people, and continue to grow spiritually. What I have gained here at Vanguard has completely changed my life.