A $41,000 donation from a local American Legion Post will provide crucial counseling to Santa Monica College student veterans, college officials announced Monday.
"Most of us feel we don’t want the returning vets from Iraq and Afghanistan to be treated the way Vietnam vets were," said Dave Borgeson, first vice commander of American Legion Post 283 in Pacific Palisades.
There are about 700 student veterans at Santa Monica College, and not enough money in the Veterans Resource Center budget to provide counseling for everyone, according to Linda Sinclair, the department's faculty leader.
"It sometimes takes over three hours for a student veteran to wait to see a counselor," she said.
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Post 283 gifted $40,000 to the college last year that helped fund veteran services and emergency loans.
Sinclair said counseling for the students is critical.
In addition to academic advising, the students often need guidance on disabled student services and the complex rules governing veterans' benefits. The approximately 300 Santa Monica College veterans receiving educational benefits under the G.I. Bill monthly allowances can't receive those benefits if they're not enrolled in classes, she said.
"These young men and women have come back from wars and have seen some terrible things," Borgeson said. "Their experiences are much different than the high school students entering college, and they need guidance from specially trained counselors. We want to be sure these veterans get the services they need."
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