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La Verne helps student veterans

Kellie Galentine
Assistant LV Life Editor

The Office of Veteran Student Success serves to assist the 400 plus veteran students on campus in making the transition from military to civilian life. Diana Towles, coordinator of the Office of Veteran Student Success, works daily to build the office into a working resource for veterans to immerse successfully into academic and social programs.

“The main goal is to help students succeed achieve their goals academically, financially, emotionally, socially and physically,” Towles said.

The office, located in room 230 on the second floor of the Campus Center, assists with the struggles that veteran students face upon returning into civilian life.

“Transitioning back to being a civilian is not easy and a resource center could be a centralized meeting location for veteran students,” said Jonathon Dang, junior legal studies major and Marines veteran.

From post traumatic stress to financial struggles, there are many challenges that can keep veterans from successfully reentering civilian life.

“In 2011, members of the University community came together to address the needs of our student veterans,” Dean of Student Affairs Loretta Rahmani said in a press release.

The office is able to exist because of a 10-year $500,000 grant from the Ahmanson Foundation.

This grant is split between veteran scholarships and supporting the Office.

“It is beneficial to have a veterans office because it provides resources such as financial aid, counseling, and a valuable location for veterans to network,” Dang said.

Towles, who previously worked in the President’s Office, is a veteran herself.

Her past experiences make it easier for veteran students to open up to her, and get the information they need in order to be successful.

“Diana Towles has been a valuable part of the President’s Office for 20 years,” Devorah Lieberman, president of the University, said in a press release. “I look forward to watching Diana contribute to our University in ways that will assist our student veterans.”

Currently Towles is discovering public and private ways to reach out to the veteran population on campus so they know there is support for them from the University, but simultaneously do not feel uncomfortable.

In the Office of Veteran Student Success, Towles is busy creating a webpage and brochure by building connections with outside resources for the veterans to use.

“I have begun meeting with students, and it is very fulfilling to help get their needs resolved,” Towles said. “It has really validated my desire to be here to serve our veteran students.”

Towles is working on bringing a chapter of a national organization to campus in order to connect veteran students to one another.

“The office is a blank slate, so there are a lot of resources and connections that need to be created both on and off campus,” Towles said.

Towles hopes to work with Marisol Morales, the director of civic and community engagement, in order to plan for veteran and nonveteran students to reach out and help others.

“One of my goals is to work with community engagement to talk about how we can get our vets involved in helping other vets,” Towles said.

“It is our responsibility to reach out to veterans that are homeless and help them.”

Towles wants the office to eventually become a full resource center that provides academic advising, computer labs, a lounge and more for the veteran students to connect with one another and gain the support and tools they need to graduate.

“Some of these veterans have overcome huge challenges, and that is inspiring,” Towles said.

Kellie Galentine can be reached at kellie.galentine@laverne.edu.

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