The Veterans Success Center serves as a refuge and study hall for the student veterans at Citrus College The facility offers student veterans many amenities such as computers and tutoring. (Mickey Romero/Clarion)
The Veterans Success Center at Citrus College will be out of funding by June 30 unless efforts now underway to secure a stable funding basis are successful.
The center has reached the end of another fiscal year without improvements in securing steady funding from Citrus College.
“We’ve been in this crisis the last couple of years,” said Bruce Solheim, Ph.D., the history professor who started the Citrus College Veterans Network.
“It has always come down to the end of the fiscal year and the Veterans Center has to be bailed out by private donors, the Associated Students of Citrus College, by students or by the Foundation,” Solheim said.
According to Paula Green, the director of communications, Citrus College is reviewing all programs for annual funding and will be proactively seeking funds to support the Veterans Center for the 2015-2016 fiscal year.
Martha McDonald, the interim dean, and Monica Christianson, director of the Veterans Center, will be attending the meeting of the California State Assembly’s Higher Education Committee with a student veteran alumnus and two current student veterans on April 7.
At this meeting McDonald and a United States Marine Corps veteran will address the committee members in support of Assemblyman Roger Hernandez’s SB 393 Veterans bill that will provide grant funding for California community colleges.
Math professor Paul Swatzel, president of the Citrus College Faculty Association, addressed the Board of Trustees on this issue in their meeting on March 17.
“I would hope the college would find a way to institutionalize the Veterans Center, so that this does not become an ongoing issue,” Swatzel said.
At the BOT meting Swatzel read a statement from Solheim’s behalf reiterating the fact it is time to institutionalize the funding needed to keep the Veterans Center’s daily operations running and support the required indefinitely.
Swatzel evaluated that the cost of keeping the Veterans Center fully funded for a year would only expand 0.3 percent of the college’s budget.
“It costs roughly $240,000 to do a good job of running the Veterans Center, out of an entire budget of $65 million,” Swatzel said.
Veterans Center Supporters like Swatzel, Solheim, Christianson, and McDonald are few of many who are in favor of institutionalized funding that will allow the center to search for grants instead of depend on them.
“It’s too much a part of who we are and we are proud of it. Everyone from the president to the faculty to the staff and to the students are proud of our vets and of the fact we have this great center,” Solheim said.
Citrus was the first college in the U.S. to offer a credit course in fall 2007 for veterans in transition.
The center was successful with its accomplishments by depending on donations, grants and volunteer efforts from a supportive college community.
With a secure source of funding the faculty, staff and administration will be free to develop new and more specialized projects and allow the Veterans Center to purse grants that will ensure its growth.
This way the Veterans Center can remain a role model for other community college veterans centers in the U.S.
With several fund raising events schedule through out the year and increased awareness of the need for the Veterans Success Center, students can also do their part to help our veterans.
“I am not worried it is going to close down, not at all,” Solheim said. “It is not going to go anywhere, it is just a matter of where the funding is going to come from.”