New event commences for BC veterans

Mayan Lara

Cassandra McGowan, Reporter

Bakersfield College’s Veterans Club hosted a new event to allow BC students, faculty, and Bakersfield citizens to show their appreciation for veterans.

On Nov. 7, VetFest took place outside the gym near the entrance to the stadium, and according to Veterans Club adviser Paul Beckworth, who is a veteran of the U.S. Navy as well as a history professor at BC, he’s never seen an event like this take place at BC during his time of employment.

Beckworth said there are approximately 225 veterans at BC who receive benefits like the GI Bill and a few hundred others who are not using the GI Bill.  He said that soldiers returning to civilian life may find readjusting to school a bit harder than the average person and that the Veterans Club is there to help.

“The challenges they [veterans] have at college are sometimes going to be different from others, PTSD [Post Traumatic Stress Disorder] issues and GI Bill issues are kind of unique,” said Beckworth.

By hosting events like VetFest the club hopes to bring more awareness to services rendered for BC’s vet community and also to show that fellow students and faculty are there to help.

Richard Schriver, who served for the U.S. Army as well as U.S. Marine Corp, said that VetFest and the Veterans Club is a safe haven for all veterans.

He said that ever since he started attending BC for his major in Fire Science, he’s been a part of the Veterans Club.

“It’s a place where we can get together and be ourselves because people on the outside are circles, and we’re this square peg that’s trying to fit into the circle, so we get together and try to teach each other

fit in out here,” said Schriver.

There were a few booths on hand at VetFest:  a U.S. Marine Corp recruiting booth that had a Marine in his Dress Blues, a booth for BC’s Veterans Club, and a booth for the Bakersfield Vet Center.

There was also a group of motorcyclists who came to honor the veterans.

Veterans Club president Wesley Barrientos, who is a student at BC and veteran of the U.S. Army, said the affair had a good turnout for its first year, with many political figures from around Kern County and even some entertainment.

“It’s been a great turn out.  I’m so happy to see so many people show up and support veterans and be thanking all of those guys who are running around out there and entertainers like Evan Morgan, who is a Marine veteran combat-wounded double-amputee singing the national anthem, the president [of BC] speaking to veterans themselves, giving them that podium and that voice and everyone gets to hear it.  All the support from all the politicians who showed up, McCarthy’s office, Shannon Grove’s office, Mike Maggard showed up, it was incredible support, so yeah, I’m pretty happy,” said Barrientos.

He also said that support from the BC administration has been amazing and that BC president Sonya Christian was in full support of VetFest.

“It’s all thanks to work from the Veterans Club, not my work, but their work, and the support from the president of the school who was 100% supportive and said ‘go ahead,’” said Barrientos.

He said that plans are already under way for next year’s VetFest and that he hopes turnout for next year’s event will be at least double what it was this year and he also hopes to have more booths and other happenings for next year.

Schriver said that he’s happy with the turnout as well but hopes that next year will be even bigger and better.

“We plan on doing everything we can to show you that we may have gotten out of the military, but we still don’t have a discharge date. We’re not done serving America.  We’re still serving today,” said Schriver.