Veterans Aid Program Receives Cal Vet Grant
The Office of Veterans Affairs at Santa Rosa Junior College received an annual grant of $141,640 for two years to provide services to United States veterans.
The grants were a collaboration between the Sonoma County Veterans Services Office, Nation’s Finest, Legal Aid of Sonoma County, and SRJC Student Psychological Services to create a grant application for Cal Vet’s assistance under Proposition 63 Mental Health Services Act 2004.
The collective’s hands-on approach to providing critical services to veterans in one location positioned them to receive the grant. By appealing to veterans in the early stages of military separation, when they are typically vulnerable, unsure of how to pursue their life goals, suffering from service-related and/or untreated mental or physical health issues, the Office veterans is in a unique position to facilitate reintegration into civilian life.
“Receiving Mental Health Services Act grant funds through Cal Vet has opened the door for SRJC to not only create a stronger program for veterans, but also to build strong collaborative relationships. with community resources such as Nation’s Finest, Legal Aid of Sonoma County, and the Sonoma County Office of Veterans Services,” said Farrel Dobbins, Coordinator, Veterans Affairs.
“Alone, each of us can only meet the very specific needs of veterans in the Sonoma County area. Together, we are able to meet the many critical needs of the veteran or his family members. This is great news for SRJC student-veterans, as we know that when we address the needs of a student as a whole, they are more likely to persist through graduation and/or the transfer. »
Thanks to the grant, the Office of Veterans Affairs was able to hire a Veteran Student Success Specialist who works directly with student veterans and their family members to identify critical needs, which may otherwise prevent them from successfully completing their studies at SRJC. The specialist directs students directly to campus and community resources that can work with them to meet these needs. Community Resources will also refer clients to the SRJC so that the Veterans Affairs Bureau can help them or their family members explore the possibility of enrolling in the SRJC.
“Stan Bragg has been a great addition to my educational team,” said James, a veteran student who accessed services through the program. “He is a wonderful liaison for veteran students who knows the education system and knows how to navigate it. He is friendly, empathetic and his advice is exceptional.
The grant will also help service attorneys for veterans at Sonoma County Legal Aid. Veterans referred to Nation’s Finest for housing assistance will receive direct services, and the Sonoma County Veterans Services office will provide support for Department of Veterans Affairs matters.
“Too often, a veteran’s mental health needs are diagnosed and treated in a vacuum,” said Mary Haynes, Santa Rosa site director for Nation’s Finest. “What makes this project great is its collaborative, community-based approach to ensuring a comprehensive suite of wraparound services.”
In recognition of Veterans Day, the SRJC Veterans Affairs Office will host a virtual open house to provide information about their services on November 9, from noon to 1:30 p.m.