Photo Courtesy of the Chaparral. Veterans Resource Center/Trio Veterans on the 23rd Annual Palm Springs Veterans Parade 2019.
College of the Desert’s Veterans Resource Center understands how challenging it is to transition from military life to student life. The Center exists to provide veterans and military-affiliated personnel, helpful services so they can learn how to navigate the California Community College system.
Its services are designed to support the success, educational needs and to provide a welcoming environment for student veterans. The staff help veterans with information on benefits and resources including: The Veterans’ Access, Choice and Accountability Act (VACA) or Choice Act, of 2014, which seeks to increase the availability of care outside of the VA (Veteran Affairs) healthcare system for veterans who are eligible (CCK-Law).
Students must qualify for VACA Act in order to be covered. Student can apply online. The form can be found on the COD website under the student services section.
The Center also provides information on applying for the GI Bill form. The GI Bill refers to any Department of Veterans Affairs education benefit earned by members of Active Duty, Selected Reserve and National Guard Armed Forces and their families. This bill has several programs and each is administrated differently depending on a person’s eligibility and duty status.
Veteran students with disabilities can also benefit from assistance, they learn who would qualify under the COD Disabled Students Programs and Services. The Veterans Resource Center provides valuable information about the Americans with Disabilities Act for student veterans to understand their civil rights.
Another service for veteran students is the Trio Veteran Student Services on the Palm Desert campus located on the South Annex 10 across the Cravens parking lot. Trio helps students with educational goals, such as transferring to a four-year university and earning a college degree/certificate. Those who qualify for Trio will have the same educational benefit services as non-veteran Trio students.
The Trio Veteran Student Service team strives to offer an educational, academic support and friendly environment for eligible veterans to reach their goals. The staff include: Director Craig Doussett; Jorge Villalta, instructional support specialist who is a U.S. Army veteran; Skye Gomez, the program secretary and the counselor, Victoria Jimenez.
Doussett helps with FASA, grants, loans and applying for colleges. He also takes his students to visit campuses such as Cal-State San Bernardino, Cal-State Fullerton and many cultural events.
Doussett and his team recently attended the Morongo Pow Pow. “My job description in a sense is to give them experiences that they may not otherwise get, maybe they are working two jobs, maybe they cannot do some of these things, and if I can plan it, I can help them have these enjoyable experiences. The Veterans Center and Trio truly care for them,” said Doussett.
The Veterans’ Resource Center and Trio Veterans Services is located on the first floor of the Cravens building in room 125. Their office hours are are Monday – Thursday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Fridays from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Students can receive academic assistance at Trio Monday – Thursday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and counseling hours are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesdays.For more information visit collegeofthedesert.edu.