Bakersfield Veterans Center to open in November
September 23, 2009
Filed under News
Vernon Valenzuela, a former Vietnam Army veteran, will be in charge of the new Bakersfield Veterans Center scheduled to open in mid-November.
Valenzuela attended Bakersfield College after returning home from war and didn’t know what to expect from college or how to act.
“I dressed in slacks, buttoned-up shirt and tie on the first day of school,” said Valenzuela. He felt lost, different from his friends and like he didn’t know how to be an adult.
With help from the teaching staff at BC who took interest in veterans, they encouraged him to continue college and graduate.
“If it weren’t for the advice the professors offered me, and the Veterans Club I joined, I would have dropped out of school,” he said.
Having a place for a veteran to go after they return from war is something Valenzuela envisioned. According to the Veterans Center organization, “the goal of the Vet Center program is to provide a broad range of counseling, outreach and referral services to eligible veterans in order to help them make a satisfying post-war readjustment to civilian life.”
There will be multiple counselors offering different classes about PTSD, marital counseling, parent counseling and children counseling.
These programs are necessary in returning veteran families because it serves as a place to vent any misunderstandings occurring.
“When couples come in to counseling, it takes the pressure off the wife who doesn’t understand some of the mal-communication that is occurring after her husband gets back home from war,” said Valenzuela.
The Veterans Center will be open four nights a week, from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. for one-hour sessions for counseling. Qualified therapists will also be available along with access to computers for job search and medical clinics.
Valenzuela also added that it’s important for veterans returning home from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars to get help immediately before it’s too late to treat their PTSD or other problems. The Veterans Center will help with re-adjustment issues and help a veteran understand their limitations.
As a returning veteran to his once left behind life, Valenzuela says, “My job is a passion not a job, and it’s rewarding to see people getting better as we work with them.”