The Best for Our Vets

Rhyan Nile, Reporter

The Veteran Success Center at CSUB offers a substantial amount of resources for our veterans and their dependents.

With military benefits and the resources that CSUB offers, these services will allow our vets to make the most out of their college experience.

The Veterans office hosted a workshop on September 29th, informing its students of the resources and benefits they most likely were unaware of. Josh Dhanens, the director of Kern County Veterans Service Department, was the instructor for the workshop.

Dhaneins was a vet himself. He served in the US Army as MP Police and decided to get out in 2001. However, he didn’t want to completely stop serving, so he joined the National Guard and started to go back to school. He was a math major at CSUB and didn’t know about the veterans office and all they offered.

After he got out of the National Guard, he decided to change his major to philosophy. After graduating from CSUB, he went to graduate school in Oklahoma to pursue his master’s in Philosophy.

Dhanens finished his education, he decided to move back to Bakersfield and wanted to teach. He started off his teaching career at CSUB and taught for three quarters. In 2012 he found himself working at the VA and in 2018 he was promoted to his current position and is still working hard to help our vets and their dependents.

The most important thing Dhanens said he has learned from his experience is to “treat the military life as a chapter in your life. Starting school is another chapter. Take a holistic approach, and use every chapter in your life, not just one.”

Jamie Pacheco is the coordinator for our Veterans Success Center since 2017. When Pacheco was first hired, the VA center did not have much to offer. She built the center from the ground up and made it the phenomenon it is today.

The military has always been a part of Pacheco’s life, so her job is very personal to her. She was not only a military kid but she is also a military spouse.

Pacheco noticed that the vets needed a lot of help when getting out of service. They needed help transitioning from military life to civilian life. So Pacheco decided to do something about it.

She decided to make the veterans office at CSUB a community for not only the vets but for their dependents included. These resources include a safe space, computer lab, free printing, tutors, work study, job opportunities, hang out lounge, support and resources from the county, and Kern Patriot Partnership.

Students have expressed to Pacheco how grateful they are for the VA center allowing them to come in and be themselves.

“Get involved on campus. Embrace the college experience. Vets have really come to life by doing this, so make the most of your time”, said Pacheco.

Community is a huge part of veteran success. Not only does CSUB offer services but so does the County. Kern County Collaborative meets once a month with over 200 participants and Pacheco is the chair. Discussing more ways to help and reach out to our vets and their families.

These resources are such a huge attribute to our vets’ success. Veterans come to our institution for the resources and support we provide.

Robert Hunt is the prime example of why the veteran community is so important. Hunt is a transfer student and is in his first year here at CSUB.

COVID-19 forced him out of Camp Pendleton in San Diego. After Hunt graduated high school, he went straight into the Marines striving to prove that he could make it in life without college. Hunt served nine years in the Marines and retired in 2020 before the pandemic happened.

Hunt decided to go back to school and pursue a career in teaching social studies. He is going to school using one of his veteran benefits to help pay for school. The benefit he is using currently is the Post 9/11 Bill and with him wanting to pursue social studies, he also qualifies for a fee waiver and VA work study.

Hunt found out about most of the benefits CSUB offers through the emails Pacheco would send out. He says he is having one of the best experiences of his life while making a bright future for himself and his family.

“Try to be on campus as much as you can. Come to the Veterans Office. When you receive emails about ways to get involved, Do it! You don’t appreciate it until you have to pay for it,” said Hunt.