Public Affairs

Capturing the Heart of Veterans History

November 10, 2011
By Stephanie Thara

Capturing the Heart of Veterans HistoryIn addition to supporting nationwide and statewide programs that help military personnel, the CSU is continually creating its own programs to serve those who served. Most CSU campuses have Veteran Affairs Offices/Student Veteran Centers equipped with academic assistance, counseling services, mentoring programs and even student veteran housing.

Varying by campus, benefits for men and women in the armed forces include priority registration, decreased GPA requirements, academic credit for military courses/training completed, textbook stipends, discounts at campus food venues and bookstores, transitional assistance courses, childcare assistance, scholarship for success programs and tutoring services, among others.

CSU faculty and staff who implement student veteran programs and services strive to make the student veteran transition as comfortable as possible, but fellow student veterans are the ones who make the university a home for each other. A student veteran group exists on nearly every one of the 23 CSU campuses. Whether it is the VetNet Student Organization at Cal State Long Beach or Our Veterans Club at San Francisco State, these students have brought their camaraderie established while in the service to the university. These organizations carry out activities such as discussion groups, advocacy projects, networking opportunities and get-togethers in an effort to fulfill their overall mission as serving as the ultimate support group for student veterans.

Cal State FullertonStudent veterans are making a difference internationally as well. In July 2011, San José State faculty and student veterans teamed together to pack and mail 80 boxes of college textbooks to Iraq, providing materials to universities in Diyala and Basra. Similarly, in 2009, six communication students at Cal State Fullerton spearheaded a project as part of a public relations class assignment to make and send 500 blankets to soldiers serving in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Locally, Fresno State has been giving a voice to veterans throughout Central California with its Central California War Veterans Oral History Project. Launched in spring 2010 by mass communication and Central California War Veterans Oral History Projectjournalism professor Gary Rice, the Oral History Project has captured the stories of over 225 veterans, who were involved in combat beginning with World War II all the way through Iraq and Afghanistan.

Firsthand chronicles and real-life narratives of this country’s military veterans are collected by students and permanently stored in the Henry Madden Library at Fresno State.
“Veterans are excited because they get to tell students stories that they have never told anyone else,” said Rice. “Students are excited because now they aren’t just reading about history; they’re sitting down with people who lived it.”

With over 1,000 war veterans in Central California, war stories are rapidly coming alive making the Oral History Projects at the Henry Madden Library one of the fastest growing archives of veteran history.