Ribbon cutting ceremony celebrates new Veterans Resource Center

Faculty, staff and veteran students cut the ribbon during the grand opening of the Veterans Resource Center, located at the University Center room 101 on Friday, Nov. 15, 2019. (Anthony De Leon/ The Collegian)

After several years of waiting for a permanent space, Fresno State veteran students officially have a place to call their own. The new Veterans Resource Center celebrated its grand opening with a ribbon cutting ceremony Friday afternoon at the University Center Room 101.

The Veterans Resource Center began operating during the first week of September, with many veteran students visiting the center before its official opening. The grand opening was delayed until November to coincide with Veterans Month celebrations. 

Formerly known as the Veterans Service Office, the Veterans Resource Center now has the opportunity to bring in outside resources in order to better serve veteran students at Fresno State. 

Before the ceremony began, everyone in attendance was directed to the refreshment table where food, pastries and wine were served. 

The ceremony began with Dr. Marshall Thomas, director of Veterans Affairs for the California State University (CSU) Chancellor’s office. Thomas said that this resource center is a major accomplishment not just for Fresno State, but also for all CSUs because now the system’s campuses have a Veterans Resource Center.

Next to the podium was Dr. Carolyn Coon, dean of Student Affairs, who talked about how the office evolved to become a full resource center. She also acknowledged and thanked all of those who were involved in the creation of the center, including the veteran students who where an integral part of the process.

“In this new space, Fresno State is well prepared to assist with the unique needs of former and current service members and dependents,” Coon said. 

Several dignitaries were also represented during the ceremony. State Sen. Andreas Borgeas, Rep. Jim Costa and Rep. TJ Cox all sent representatives to recognize to the Veterans Resource Center for its grand opening. 

After receiving the recognitions, faculty, staff, former and current veteran students ceremonially cut the ribbon to mark the grand opening of the Fresno State Veterans Resource Center. 

After the ribbon cutting, everyone in attendance was invited inside the center to see what it looks like and how it helps veteran students on campus.

Inside the center, there is a reception desk for general information, computers for veteran students to utilize, two office spaces, a common area with couches and a TV and a conference room. 

Stewart Gonzales, the president of the student veterans organization, said that this new center is a step up from the last one and that its central location will be easier for student veterans to access. 

“It’s easy for veteran students to come in and seek help when they need it. It’s not a hidden location like it used to be before,” Gonzalez said. “A lot of veterans struggle with feeling kind of trapped, which is kind of how the old office was … now, it’s a lot more open.”

Some of the veteran students who have graduated returned to Fresno State in order to be present at the ribbon cutting ceremony.

Former Associated Students, Inc. senator for veterans Jordan Cody said that the new center had been a long time coming, and that many veteran students will benefit from it. 

“Myself, others before me and after me made this [Veterans Resource Center] our mission, or crown jewel, what we have been hoping for, and it’s amazing to see this happen,” Cody said. “This is our Super Bowl, and we won. This is what we have been fighting for so many years. This is what we have been hoping for.”

Veterans Program coordinator and certifying official Robyn Gutierrez said that now that they are centrally located, the resource center has seen an influx of veterans who come in more often. Gutierrez addressed whether or not this will be the last move for the center.

“It was great that we had that opportunity to have that space [McClain Annex], but this is much nicer … they [veteran students] feel like they can come here and relax,” Gutierrez said. “There is an opportunity, possibly, that we could be in the New Student Union, but we are going to wait for that decision to be made after that facility is built.”

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