Henry and Luis at the VROC

On February 15, the Veterans Resource & Opportunity Center (VROC) marked its fifth year of service and opened its doors to the campus community for a celebration. The attendees included current student veterans, alumni, faculty, staff, and campus administrators, who came together to have lunch and share stories about their experiences. VROC Program Services Coordinator Luis Padilla says, “I’m extremely happy because it’s been difficult to get veteran centers established. To have the CSM VROC going for five years is truly a remarkable feat. We’ve turned into a one-stop shop that assists student veterans with everything from providing a quiet lounge to personalized counseling to help with veteran benefits.”

The VROC began after seeing other community colleges forming their own veteran centers. This inspired Army veteran and former Dean of Enrollment Services Henry Villareal to create a similar hub at CSM. Since its inception, Villareal says he’s proud to have “made a space available for student veterans.“

“I wanted to acknowledge student veterans for their military service,” says Villareal, “and create a space where these individuals could regain the comradeship they had experienced in the military.”

VROC student staff member Everardo “Junior” Garcia is a testament to Villareal’s vision. Garcia began attending CSM while he was wrapping up his military service and sought out the VROC’s assistance in transitioning into civilian life. The second year student credits the VROC as a place that acts as a home away from home. “I advise other student veterans to check it out,” says Garcia. “We have access to great resources, like quiet study hours and tutoring sessions. Additionally, the VROC has helped me a lot by providing me a sense of belonging—I feel like I’m able to speak my mind freely and connect with people that have similar mind sets. When it’s time, I’ll be sad to move on from CSM because the VROC is amazing, to say the least.”

To learn more about the VROC, visit collegeofsanmateo.edu/veterans.