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Opinion

Commentary: Colleges offer good opportunities for veterans

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In this 2013 file photo, Orange Coast College president Dennis Harkins, from left, Santa Ana Army Air Base veteran George Keting, OCC Student Veterans Group president Anthony Suikohen and board member Mary Hornbuckle participate in a ribbon cutting for the Veterans Resource Center at OCC.
(File Photo)

Having lived abroad for almost 10 years, I can say that the United States is a very patriotic country. Americans know how much veterans have done to fight for and maintain the freedoms that we hold dear. Veterans have gone through many sacrifices and deserve the best support.

Community college should continue to be a community resource current servicemen and veterans can rely upon in their quest to return as valued members of civilian life.

In my own experience, many of my Corona del Mar High School football and wrestling teammates learned military values, such as teamwork, discipline and service, through high school summer practices that Orange Coast College hosted at its stadium.

Having known classmates who joined the Armed Services over the years, I can see that leaders are not born but rather made through good role models who lead by example and put forth hard work every day.

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The resources in the Newport-Mesa area are excellent for veterans. For example, Coastline Community College and OCC offer priority registration for people currently in military service.

Both also sponsor tuition assistance while someone is in service — and the G.I. Bill and many other forms of assistance after someone finishes service.

A lot of our support for veterans can be given at the local level. For example, as OCC builds dormitories, hopefully veterans can be included as resident advisers or staff members. Certainly, their organization and social support styles can help make such a place run smoothly.

Since the skills necessary to be a good team sport athlete and servicemen are similar, perhaps returning veterans can be welcome as both athletes and coaches to OCC’s athletic program.

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In a perfect world, military service would be full of interesting experiences and veterans would return healthy, happy and greeted with open arms. Unfortunately, as we saw especially from the Vietnam era, many veterans need extra counseling and support.

Hopefully, as OCC increases its programs, community college can be seen as a supportive sanctuary where veterans receive not only medical attention and psychological care to address immediate problems, but rehabilitation and support for the long-term.

Former Newport Beach resident Joseph Klunder is now a teacher and consultant in China.

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How to get published: Email us at john.canalis@latimes.com. All correspondence must include full name, hometown and phone number (for verification purposes). The Pilot reserves the right to edit all submissions for clarity and length.


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