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Valley Veterans find camaraderie on campus

The Veterans Club hosts a variety of students, but they all share a common bond: the sacrifices they have made for this country

By Ava Rosate, Staff Writer

Marine veteran and nursing major Roberto Zea has attended Valley College since 2021. Zea began training at 15 years old with First City Riffle Corps, a youth program that teaches military disciplines. (Ava Rosate | Valley Star)

If a student were to walk up the Student Services building on any Wednesday at one in the afternoon, they would instantly hear the laughter and feel the warmth emitting from the room. The comfort is a result of the community that was built by veterans.

With 190 identifying members including spouses and 100 service members, the veteran population is becoming dense on campus. The resource center is open to all students, families of former servicemen and Monarchs wishing to enlist in the military. The program connects veterans with an array of services such as mental health help, counseling and financial aid assistance.

One of the VRC’s outcrops, the Veterans Club, hosts a community of student veterans who harbor comradery and kinship.

“I miss the clowns, not the circus.” said Roberto Zea, a current nursing student and marine. “When you come out of the military you miss the community and connections you made. Here on campus we can get that.”

President of the Veteran’s Club, Lloarid Flores, a 36-year-old veteran in the U.S. Marine Corps and current Valley student has completed two deployments in Iraq and is currently pursuing a double major in fire technology and social work. Flores hopes to transfer to California State University Northridge in the fall and attributes most of his academic success to the community he found at Valley.

“Growing up I wanted to be two things, a firefighter and a marine. I already finished one goal so it is on to the other.” said the two combat tour Marine veteran. “I kind of regret not starting school earlier, but if I did begin earlier, I wouldn't have the community I do today that pushes me forward.”

Flores, also a student worker at the resource center, lives in South Los Angeles. Because of the brotherhood he found on campus, the full time student commutes almost fifty miles round trip Monday through Friday.

“The biggest fault vets face is the transition back to civilian life. The club not only helps us with our educational goals but helps us transition into society again. We don't know what’s going on in a vet’s mind and having a support system makes us more successful as a student and more successful as a civilian “ said Jiratat Rottinawa, a 26 year old U.S Marine Logistics Embarkation specialist in the Marine Corps and a double major in business and counseling at Valley.

The resource center is actively working towards reaching out and appealing to more students on campus by hosting events open to all students and collaborating with clubs on campus. The Veteran’s Club meets on Wednesday at 1p.m. in the Mosaic Center.

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