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Santa Monica College Veterans to Benefit from American Legion Gift

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

By Lookout Staff

February 5, 2013 -- Student veterans attending Santa Monica College will see a boost in counseling and other services thanks to the American Legion, which doubled its funding to more than $80,000.

The $41,000 donation will help the 700 veterans attending SMC in the winter and spring sessions. The American Legion donated more than $40,000 last year to help fund veteran services and emergency loans.

“Most of us feel we don’t want the returning vets from Iraq and Afghanistan to be treated the way Vietnam vets were,” said Dave Borgeson, first vice commander of American Legion Post 283. “These young men and women have come back from wars and have seen some terrible things.”

The SMC Veterans Resource Center’s limited budget is straining the services it provides, said Linda Sinclair, the center’s faculty leader.

“Aside from academic advising, (veterans) receive guidance on often-needed disabled students services and the complex rules and regulations that govern veterans’ benefits,” Sinclair said. “It sometimes takes over three hours for a student veteran to wait to see a counselor.”

In order to receive monthly allowances under the G.I. Bill, the 300 students who qualify must be enrolled to receive those benefits, Sinclair said.

Borgeson -- whose post has 630 members that include veterans from World War II, as well as the Korean, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan wars -- said the counseling the center provides is critical.

“Their experiences are much different than the high school students entering college, and they need guidance from specially trained counselors,” he said. “We want to be sure these veterans get the services they need.”

Although most of the donation is going to counseling, $5,000 is being allocated to a veterans’ emergency fund and $1,000 for supplies and printing, Sinclair said.

Borgeson praised Sinclair and the program she runs.

“Linda Sinclair is a treasure,” Borgeson said, “and the student veterans program at SMC is probably one of the top in the country.”

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