With an estimated 1.8 million veterans residing in California, our state’s veteran population is the largest in the nation. Many of the increasing number of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan will look to one of the 112 community colleges as the most easily accessible and affordable educational options available. In fact, more than 44,000 veterans and active duty service members enrolled at a community college in 2012-13.
A college education has become an absolute necessity for veterans returning to civilian life, and community colleges provide the majority of this education, as most veterans are ineligible for direct admission to the University of California or the California State University systems.
Our role is not limited to providing academic and career training for these returning veterans, but also to assist with the often-difficult adjustment many face when transitioning to life after military service, and particularly after combat deployment. Fortunately, many of our colleges recognized this need long ago and have shown themselves to be innovative leaders in providing a broad array of programs and services to meet the needs of student veterans. However, there is more work to be done as we attempt to replicate many of the most promising programs and practices in place in order meet the needs of all student veterans attending any one of the 112 community colleges across the State.