BY CHRISTYANNE SAN JUAN
Photo courtesy of The Chaparral. Craig Doussett and Alonzo Roman address Veterans Day ceremony attendees.
The Student Veterans Organization (SVO) held their 10th Annual Veterans Day ceremony Nov. 5 in the school’s amphitheater. The event was organized by students who wished to recognize everyone on campus who previously served in the Armed Forces including students, faculty and staff.
SVO President, Alonzo Roman addressed attendees, telling his own story of how joining the military changed his life. As a senior in high school, Roman was at a loss when it came to deciding where his future would take him. He did not have any goals, as a result, he had loosely come to the conclusion that he would attend college or begin working a job until he figured things out. When Roman took the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test, he began receiving phone calls from recruiters because he had performed well on the exam. Eventually, Roman set up a meeting with one of the recruiters who had contacted him and signed the papers in less than 15 minutes.
“I had no sense of direction or any real purpose,” Roman said. “I couldn’t even do a pullup, but the idea of having a sense of belonging and brotherhood convinced me that [joining the Armed Forces] was what I wanted.”
Roman shared with the audience that joining the Marine Corps was the most difficult thing that he has ever done. During his time serving, he recalled working long hours and enduring mind games and confusing orders shouted by his superiors. He asserted that his time as a Marine was physically and emotionally draining work. Regardless, he also believed that it was the most rewarding experience he has had to date because he had found the sense of belonging and brotherhood he had been searching for. He found that the Marines that served by his side would prove to be the best friends he had ever known.
Following his discharge from the Armed Forces, Roman pursued a new dream of becoming a history teacher. However, Roman discovered that assimilating back into civilian life was more difficult than he had ever thought. His friends were either almost finished with their education or graduated and Roman was still attempting to get started. “The world as I knew it had been stripped away,” Roman divulged. “I don’t think I would have made it this far without the Veterans Resource Center.”
The support of the Veterans Resource Center has been cited as a critical part of the success of student veterans. Brian Atkinson had served in the Marine Corps for 12 and a half years before his time at College of the Desert, and he believes that he would have not been able to attain the academic success that he has now.
“When I first got to College of the Desert, I had no idea what to do or who to talk to,” Atkinson said. “The Veterans Resource Center helped point me in the right direction and gave me the means to do as well as I’m doing in school.”
The event concluded with a thankful message from Director of TRiO Veterans Student Support Services, Craig Doussett. He expressed that no matter how many years served or which branch veterans were a part of in the armed forces, it was an act that is commendable on all fronts. Doussett said that the decision resulted with a few guarantees; as servicemen and servicewomen did not know where they would be assigned or the logistics of their deployment in addition to if they would return home to their families.
“They accept these risks so others don’t have to, or because others cannot,” Doussett said. “We should be grateful not only for their time in the military but for all they do to give back to their country.”
The Student Veterans Organization is a club which follows the primary goal of creating a system of support and community for fellow veterans. The organization’s purpose is to promote camaraderie, professionalism and education among veterans and members of the armed forces, as to well as foster a strong community of veterans and students alike.
The Veterans Resource Center provides critical service and support for veterans at College of the Desert including active-duty, National Guard and Reserve military personnel, their spouses and dependents, and faculty and staff. The Veterans Resource Center also assists veterans in their transition back into civilian life as well as supporting them in their success, retention and educational needs. The Veterans Resource Center can be found in the Cravens Student Services Center and is open Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Friday from 8 a.m. – noon