Santa Monica College Receives 200,000 Dollar Veterans Resource Center Grant

Last week, the California Community Colleges Board of Governors gave out more than $8 million in grant money to the Veteran Resource Centers (VRC) of 59 community colleges across the state, including Santa Monica College (SMC). SMC’s VRC received a total of $200,000 in state grant money. 

Faculty member Elaine Morton, currently the Interim Faculty Leader of the VRC at SMC, says that most of the grant money will go to hiring a permanent project manager, at least for the next two to three years.

Such a project manager will be playing a key role in the VRC and will take on many different tasks related to assisting veteran students with progressing their education and employment. According to a document that Morton provided to the Corsair, the new project manager would have to “Improve or enhance the educational outcomes of student veterans; increase the number and percentage of student veterans who earn associate's degrees, ADTs and certificates; Organize a student group, networking events and other services for female veterans; Collaborate with Financial Aid and Scholarship office to help students identify and secure additional financial aid beyond what is provided by the military; Work with faculty to monitor student success during the semester and offer early alert advising to students who are struggling; Host transfer advisors and veterans resource staff from regional 4-year colleges and universities; Assist veterans with job readiness; and Establish a campus advisory board.”

Morton is placing an emphasis on organizing events for female veterans. According to Veteran Administration’s 2015 “Profile of Women Veterans”, more female veterans don’t have access to healthcare than male veterans, and less female veterans use public healthcare than male veterans. Morton has noticed a similar trend for female veteran students accessing resources at community colleges.

“I went to the veterans’ summit this past spring. That is one of the issues they brought up. It’s not just Santa Monica College, it’s across California community colleges,” explained Morton. “They said that a lot of [female veterans] don’t want to come into the veterans center. We want to do something that is a little more female friendly, but again we have tried to orchestrate maybe a luncheon or something like that. In our minds, we think that would be a great thing to do. But we want to find out exactly what they would want. We encourage them to come in and meet with this person. That is primarily what this person is gonna be doing.”

Morton hopes that with this grant money being used to hire a new project manager; the VRC can only improve the hard work they are already doing.

“We want to provide as many services to our vets as possible and we are hoping that the services that we gonna be able to provide through what the project manager does with this new grant would really help us move forward and maybe make something we can cement in our current offerings,” said Morton.