BC Veterans Resource Center battle against COVID-19 to provide services for veterans

Amaya Lawton, Reporter

Bakersfield College has a resourceful program for veterans that has been moved virtual, like many other programs, since the start of the pandemic.
The Vernon Valenzuela Veterans Resource Center (VRC), is a program at BC for veterans obtaining and continuing their education. “ The 4,700 square foot building is bright and offers a place for veterans and military-affiliated students to come enology camaraderie, study, rest, tutoring, and use of the center’s computers,” according to the BC website.
VRC offers services to veterans such as educational and resourceful. These services include health, advisors, safety, and local agencies that would be able to assist the needs of veterans specifically, according to the VRC page on the BC website.
The Veterans program at BC was moved virtually like many services and programs offered at BC when COVID began to get worse.
Jenny Frank, manager of veterans services and programs, is a former Marine who previously worked with Veterans in Bakersfield for ten years before getting the job. Frank explained that the process of going virtually started before the lockdown in March.
Frank and the veteran advisors at the Veterans office tried to plan ahead to get their students the services and support that one might need during COVID.
The VRC office is a space for veterans to go and have others that understand them. So, Frank wanted to get their programs online as fast as they could. The Veterans office officially had two hours to clear their building when the lockdown was given. After those two hours, everyone was out and the virtual office was ready and being used the same day, Frank explained.
On-campus, the Veterans programs would be very interactive and have face to face communication with their students, however, once COVID shut down most face to face interactions everything became virtually and on your own. A worry that Frank had was that COVID would be “an excuse for isolation,” Frank stated. Meaning that, contacting their veteran students was very important to keep them engaged with school and letting them know that someone is there for them.
Frank explains that this program is different from others because most of the staff and advisors are veterans themselves. This builds a connection with the students letting them know that they understand things they may go through as well, she said. They all understand the training and experiences that only veterans would understand.
Over the summer, the veterans’ program saw a small decrease in participation, however, an increase in traffic on the virtual site started at the beginning of the fall semester. Frank explained how this semester is different because of new students that might not know about the services being offered for veterans The services provided by the VRC. The services provided by the VRC can help veterans succeed while having an outlet of other individuals who understand each other and know they are not alone.