New veterans’ center planned for Lake Worth campus
Military veterans pursuing their education at Palm Beach State College will soon have a new place to connect, lounge, study and get academic support and other services to help them acclimate to school and civilian life.
The College is planning to renovate a former Criminal Justice building (CJA 207) on the Lake Worth campus and convert it into a Veterans’ Resource Center for veterans at all of the campuses. Recently vacated, the building was previously used as a faculty and staff office space for the Crime Scene Technology/Criminal Justice programs. The center is made possible because of an $800,000 one-time appropriation approved by the state Legislature this year and backed by Sen. Maria Sachs, a champion of veterans.
The center will replace the existing one-stop center in the Paul J. Glynn Student Services Center building and allow expansion of services. Through the current center, established in 2009, veterans have access to computers, and they are certified for their U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Education benefits. They also receive one-on-one academic advising and referrals to other areas of the College and outside agencies.
Unlike the current center, the new facility will have a place for veterans to bond with each other. It will feature a lounge for social and recreational activities, study areas, tutoring, mentoring and other programs. It also will serve as a venue for faculty training to enhance understanding and responsiveness to student veterans.
“The Veterans’ Resource Center will be the principal structure within the institution that addresses the veterans’ needs by providing a full complement of services. In addition to assistance with the enrollment process and certification for VA education benefits, the Resource Center will provide a place where veterans can be with other veterans,’” said Helen Shub, assistant dean of enrollment management at PSBSC. “One of the most difficult challenges veterans face when transitioning out of military life is the loss of the sense of community they experience while in the military. The Resource Center will provide a central location for socializing and community building among our student veteran population as well as faculty and staff who have served in the armed forces.”
Sachs, who pushed for the center and whose late father was a World War II veteran, said she was happy to spearhead the initiative.
“John F. Kennedy said ‘As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them,’ ” she said. “The counseling, training and education for veterans is the least that we as a community can do. There is no better appreciation than education. I was proud to lead the charge.”
This is the latest of numerous steps the College has taken to help its approximately 650 veterans. The College also has a Veterans Resource Center on the Palm Beach Gardens campus. While the College provides the space, it is the result of a commitment by Ibis Friends of Veterans Charitable Organization, Inc. to donate funds from its annual golf tournament to furnish the center. The organization also established a scholarship and stipend fund open to veterans on all campuses.
The Boca Raton campus also has a space on its campus for a student club for veterans to meet. In addition to creating a new center on the Lake Worth campus, the College also plans to use some of the funds to enhance services for veterans on the other campuses. Plans are to complete the new center during this academic year.