Serving Those Who Have Served
Paying tribute to the admirable service of our nation’s veterans and recognizing the military service of its own student-veterans, CSUSM will host a celebration event on Thursday, Nov. 10 at noon in Tukwut Courtyard in honor of Veterans Day.Today more than 900 CSUSM students self identify as veterans, active duty personnel or military dependents – an increase of 40 percent in the last three years. Cal State San Marcos currently serves the second largest student-veteran population in the San Diego region and has the highest percent of student-veterans per capita than any other university in the CSU. For a second straight year, G.I. Jobs Magazine has recognized CSUSM as a military-friendly institution, ranking the University among the nation’s best colleges for veterans.“It can be hard as a veteran to get out of the military mindset and transition to student life,” said student-veteran Rick Enriquez, a junior studying criminology and sociology.During his nine years of active service in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1999 to 2008, Enriquez was deployed overseas six times – twice to Afghanistan and four times to Iraq. Less than two years of his service were spent stateside.“It was hard,” he said. “You learn to disconnect yourself from so many things, including the people you love, in order to serve your country.”After completing his final service stationed at Miramar, Enriquez enrolled in community college and soon transferred to Cal State San Marcos. He explained that the transition to student life was made easier by the Veterans Center.“The Veterans Center has been a place that I can go and talk with my peers who understand my military experiences and know what I’m going through as a veteran,” he explained. “It makes it easier to transition when you have a community of student-veterans and staff supporting you.”The CSUSM Veterans Center, in cooperationwith the Student Veterans Organization, will host its annual Veterans Day celebration on Thursday, Nov. 10. Students, faculty, staff and the community are invited to attend the special midday event recognizing and honoring our nation’s veterans. A color guard, comprised of CSUSM students, will present the colors followed by a special keynote address by Marine Corps Colonel Eugene Apicella.The Veterans Center at CSUSM opened its doors in 2008 and is one of only a handful of academic support centers for veterans in the CSU. Each week, the Center welcomes more than 150 student-veterans through its doors and provides study space, referrals for academic resources and assistance with navigating education benefits, in addition to serving as a social center.“We’re here to advocate for veterans, provide resources and referrals and help them through the process of getting acclimated to campus life,” said Elton Tidwell, a former Marine corporal who works part-time in the Veterans Center.In his small hometown in Arizona, Tidwell explained that there weren’t many job opportunities. In 2003, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps. Stationed at Camp Pendleton for four years, he served as a fiscal accountant and ran his regiment’s $1.7 million budget. Honorably discharged in 2007, he attended Mira Costa College before transferring to CSUSM last year to study kinesiology with an emphasis in pre-physical therapy. After he graduates in spring 2012, Tidwell plans to pursue a doctorate in physical therapy.“We invite the campus and our community to stop by and visit the Center, meet some of our staff and learn how CSUSM is helping student-veterans succeed,” said Tidwell.