Friday, November 11, 2016

El Cajon Elks Lodge honors Cuyamaca College veterans

About 25 student veterans at Cuyamaca College were treated to a barbecue and a drawstring bag filled with school supplies at a Veterans Week commemoration on the grand lawn Thursday hosted by the El Cajon Elks Lodge.

The event, which also included a raffle for gift cards from Barnes & Noble and a pair of tickets to a Chargers’ football game, marked the third year that Elks Lodge 1812 joined the college in honoring student veterans.

Cuyamaca College President Julianna Barnes thanked the veterans for their service and sacrifice, calling them “extraordinary people doing extraordinary things.”

“We stand in the midst of patriots,” she said.

With about 1,000 veterans enrolled at Cuyamaca and Grossmont colleges, veteran services are prominent at both campuses. The colleges have Veteran Affairs or Veteran Services offices serving as a liaison between college and the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs for, among other things, certification for VA educational benefits.

Resource centers offer a collaborative delivery of student services such as those tailored for students with disabilities and those needing counseling or access to assistive technologies. The colleges also have a longstanding practice of giving military personnel and veterans top priority in registering for classes.

Barnes said the college will soon be expanding its Veterans Resource Center to reaffirm its commitment to student veterans.
"We will forge ahead and we will continue to strengthen our institutional commitment to you," she said.
Alberto Sanderson, a Marine Corps veteran who served a tour of duty during Operation Iraqi Freedom before his discharge in 2006, said the Veterans Resource Center provides a respite from the stresses of the day and helps smooth the transition from the military into the college community.

Nicole Sabatino, who was discharged from the Navy in 2014 after six years of service, said she appreciates Cuyamaca College’s commitment to student veterans. A business major, she is working toward a transfer to the University of San Diego.

Cuyamaca College Professor Emeritus Anthony Zambelli, a longtime member of the Elks and 2014 president of the El Cajon lodge said the barbecue was funded by a $2,000 grant from the Elks National Foundation.

“We believe in our motto that as long as there are veterans, the Elks will never forget them,” Don Sauter, the president of the El Cajon lodge, said in welcoming remarks to the crowd. “We raise more money for veterans and kids than any other service organization around.”