CSUB’s Veterans Success Center Held Luncheon for Veterans Day

Baylie Ruiz, Features Writer

Pictured are those who attended the Veterans Recognition Luncheon. Veterans, resources in the community, and those who work at the Veterans Success Center were also in attendance. Photo by Baylie Ruiz / The Runner

The Veterans Recognition Luncheon took place Thursday, Nov. 10, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., in the Multipurpose Room of the Student Union.

The luncheon began with the serving of food that was catered from Hodel’s. At the luncheon, there was a slideshow playing on a projector. In the slideshow, they had veterans’ pictures, names, branches, and majors or positions at the school displayed on each slide.

During the luncheon, Jamie Lopez, Veterans Success Center Coordinator, spoke about her gratitude for everyone that has served and those who assisted in putting the luncheon together.

I spoke with Lopez about her role at the VSC. “I would say I wear many hats,” said Lopez. She works with many departments on campus to help point veterans, their spouses, and their dependents in the right direction.

“This is a center for a variety of resources,” said Lopez. She not only works with resources on campus but also off campus.

“Students come to me for various situations. They can be academic, personal needs, mental health, benefits, or basic needs,” said Lopez. Basic needs can be food, toiletries, or clothing while personal needs are them needing someone to talk to.

By utilizing the on and off-campus resources, Lopez is able to direct these students toward resources that can help them with the situation they are in.

“We work with California Veterans Assistant Foundation, CVAF, which is a local foundation that helps veterans with housing whether they are at risk of homelessness or homeless,” said Lopez.

CVAF is one of the many resources that Lopez works with to better assist veterans, their spouses, and dependents.

Lopez was also chair for the Kern County Veterans Collaborative, KCVC, during the pandemic. A majority of the board was veterans, so she felt honored to be selected for this position. This also allowed her to learn about more resources within the community.

Being the chair allowed Lopez to be a better advocate by being introduced to these 200+ agencies in the county. Lopez said, “I think KCVC has opened a lot of opportunities to be a better advocate.” These resources were a full circle of support for veterans, anywhere from housing to mental health to education.

“I don’t think people realize how supportive Kern County is with the veteran community. I’ll have a veteran that is in need of x, y, z, and they’ll ask if they have a, b, c and d, f, g,” said Lopez.

Within the network of resources, these agencies work very hard to make sure the veterans are taken care of and have what they need.

Lopez does this because she saw the impact it had on her husband. She saw the effects of him struggling when he got out of the military. “He struggled for resources, there was no place for him to get any resources,” said Lopez.

“I would see this struggle with a lot of students that were coming in with the military. I would see a lot of veterans coming in and they would be so lost,” said Lopez. She wanted to help them and be a liaison for Veteran Affairs. She wanted to make plans on how to best serve them, working with admissions, and the business office.

Lopez also does this because it is her community, and she wants to be a better advocate for those who need it. Her goal is to provide guidance in the best way possible and provide veterans, spouses, and dependents with the network of resources she has.

“I do it because it is my community and I care so much about it. I don’t want someone to feel how my husband felt, very lost, and isolated. I wanted to create a place where veterans are welcome, valued, and they matter,” said Lopez.