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Student veterans organization provides support

by Joseph Camacho | Pulse Staff Reporter

Student veterans organization provides support
SVO President Flor Semersky is also a work-study at the PAC VA office.

In addition to enrollment certification, Palo Alto College provides student veterans free membership into the campus’ Student Veterans Organization.

“Every veteran is a member of the organization,” said Vincent Bosquez, coordinator of Veterans Affairs at Palo Alto College and added that there is no need to sign up.

He explained that student veterans often volunteer their time and assist the SVO in community outreach events, like the Wounded Warrior Project bicycle ride, which PAC hosted this past November.

“We had some members come out with their bicycles and do either a 25-mile or 50-mile loop around the area to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project,” Bosquez said.

The SVO has been active for over a year, but SVO President Flor Semersky explained that the organization is still fairly new and that it takes the opportunity whenever possible to network with other veterans organizations at other colleges.

“We went to a conference in Vegas in December, and we met with SVOs from all over the United States,” Semersky said.  The experience of being able to talk with other organizations and seeing how they run gave her a better idea of how PAC’s SVO should work, she said.

“We have our next social event in the works,” Semersky said.

Plans are in progress to take student veterans in April on a trip to the WWII Museum in Fredericksburg, Texas, and students will be notified through email. Semersky also said the SVO is currently looking into participating in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, which focuses on mentoring children of service members who are deployed overseas. The SVO will meet with coordinators of the Big Brothers Big Sisters program this month before they set a number goal for volunteers.

“Our main goal is to make the veterans’ experience a good one,” Semersky said. “People [Veterans] begin here at Palo Alto, but for one reason or another, they don’t finish.”

She explained that her vision for the SVO is for it to be an outlet for veterans where they can share common ideas, help each other academically and socialize.

The SVO will start focusing their recruitment on incoming veteran students so that they can begin to network with each other and help motivate each other to finish college, Semersky said.

Sarah Gamboa, Social Work sophomore and Marine Corps veteran, said that she has heard rumors of the SVO but has never been approached by anyone in the organization.

“You know, I think they should have a gathering or meeting or something that would bring us all together and help spread the word,” Gamboa said.

The SVO president explained that they send information through email but are looking for a more face-to-face method of corresponding with PAC’s veteran population.

Bosquez said since the end of the Iraq war, PAC’s VA office has seen their workflow increase with an estimated 750 veterans attending PAC. Semersky said with higher enrollment comes the opportunity to reach out to more veterans.

“We want veterans to come back and see us, not just once at the beginning of the semester,” Semersky said.

The VA office is located in the Palomino Center, Room 114. Their phone number is (210) 486-3113.