Student veterans encouraged to visit center

Area gives space for vets to ‘build a community,’ director says

It’s sad seeing people completely oblivious to the resources that are right in front of them — at least, that’s what EJ Goodroe, director of Del Mar College’s Veterans Center, seems to think. 

A former Marine Corps member of six years, Goodroe came to Del Mar to help other veterans who were in the same position he was in when he first got out. 

“It’s an exposure to a different world,” Goodroe said, describing his back-to-school experience. 

“I think that’s the biggest thing. In the military, we all understand that you’re good at something, right, and it’s very clear because it’s defined. But when you get back out to that world, it’s not so clear. You’re mortified, and you have to figure out what that is for yourself.”

It was through the use of his own school resources through the Veterans Affairs work study program, as Goodroe explains it, that he was able to get where he is today. 

“There’s a reason I secured this job after graduation, that’s because of VA work study. They were looking for individuals with veteran experience, but also that they were familiar with the benefits,” he said. 

He also attributed the unique veteran community he came to find through his schooling to his success as well.

“It was difficult to relate to the students you were in class with. I mean, maybe you’re in your mid to late 20s or 30s, and your counterpart is 18, 19 years old. It’s gonna be a little bit different right?”

“So having that group that you can share stories with, where you don’t even have to speak, you just understand that your experiences were rather similar as opposed to your fellow student is important,” Goodroe said.

It’s a community he’s hoping to establish here at DMC as well.

“That’s what we’re looking to do with this space. We’re looking to build a community but also to have the community become inspired to do something,” he said, referring to the Veterans Center space located on Heritage Campus.

Also through this, Goodroe encourages student veterans to actively seek help through the VA office at DMC. 

“You don’t know what you don’t know,” he said.

“Don’t be afraid to ask, I mean what we’re here for. We have communications with so many different organizations, people, groups in general, and it’s amazing that in this digital world we live in people still don’t know what’s available to them.”

Goodroe highlighted the many off-campus connections the department has as well.

“You know, we’re a pretty small community but we’re pretty vocal about it too,” he said.“We do have connections related to health benefits, so we can put them in contact with the right people, or career resources, or even if they plan on transferring to different institutions.” 

Ultimately, Goodroe hopes to see the Veterans Center on campus being more taken advantage of and sought out.

“I think the biggest thing is making our student veterans aware, and not just them, but also those affiliated with the community that it’s a space available for their use. They can use it for whatever they want it to,” Goodroe said.

The center is in Room 207 of the Harvin Center at Heritage Campus.

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