Resource Center honors female veterans

Hope+Garcia+sits+for+a+meet+and+greeat+the+Veterans+Resource+Center+on+Wednesday%2C+March+23.+Garcia+served+in+the+US+Navy+for+11+years.+Photo+credit%3A+Tisha+Lenon

Tisha Lenon

Hope Garcia sits for a meet and greeat the Veteran’s Resource Center on Wednesday, March 23. Garcia served in the US Navy for 11 years. Photo credit: Tisha Lenon

Tisha Lenon, Staff Writer

She took part in the meet and greet event celebrating and honoring female veterans as part of Women’s History Month at the Veteran’s Resource Center.

Veterans talked amongst each other and shared their stories and experiences serving students and faculty.

Felipe Salazar, a counselor at the Veteran’s Resource Center said they have counselors like him that can help them with their academic and career goal.

“We have the computer labs that can assist them; we have tutors in here in for English and math, and mental health counselors that come in.”

There were three main women that shared their experiences in service and about the center.

Garcia explained that after she got out of the services, the military sent her to a program that explains what someone can do post Sept. 11 and the benefits you get offered for schooling.

“When I got here, they were welcoming and they open the door really well for me to work with them to start my college over again. I already had a bachelors degree, but I wasn’t going to be able to use it cause of my disabilities I got after serving.

“I knew I wasn’t going to be able to become a cop so I needed to start over and find a type of degree.”

She continued, “I tell any female willing to go in the service that it is a realization, it has to be a decision truly on her own self that it’s something that she has to want to do and want to be.

“It’s an opportunity to leave your home to find yourself and become a whole different person. When it comes to being in the military you are not just one person you are a team and you have to learn to work with everyone and every type of person, male or female and it’s a different lifestyle and that can only be learned and not taught.”

Lauren Flores, a business administration major, served in the Army from 2011 to 2015.

“I picked the Army because I knew at the time it was the biggest organization […] I wanted to travel to different parts of the world.”

When she finished serving she came to Cerritos College and got help from the center.

“They offer a lot of services here, we can use the counselors here instead of having to go through admissions, and we have the computer lab here that kind of helps for when the library gets full.

“Here they show us how to use our benefits and they offer us things that we didn’t even know about.”

Vanessa Carraza, a US Marine Corp veteran since 2011 who is currently a reserve, recalled how she got into service.

“Part of the reason was that the Marine Corp. recruiters where the ones who showed up most at our school. They persuaded me and it was something I wanted to do so I signed up for it”

Carraza expressed that the hardest part about being in the service is that one have to compete with the men and their standards.

Garcia said, “Just dealing with stereotypes, and being a female in my type of job, […]military police was the hardest part. “

The Veteran’s Resource Center offers educational benefits, admissions, counselors, tutors and financial aid help for any veterans.

This resource center is offered not only to veterans, but to anyone dependent on a veteran, spouse or to a child that has mother or father that served.

To see if you qualify you must apply for the GI Bill educational benefits online at www. gibill.va.gov. Once you do you will make an appointment with a counselor at the center, fill out the veteran student responsibilities form, and submit a copy of DD214.

For more information call the center at (562) 860-2451 ext. 3716 or visit them at the center located in the ISC building, in between the student center and game room.