Center tries to make veterans feel at home
October 19, 2016
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When he got home from Desert Storm, Tommy Bandy ran into a lot of problems. After getting some help, he decided to make things easier for other veterans.
Bandy knows transitioning back into civilian life can be difficult for veterans, but now he is there to help.
After establishing the Veterans Resource Center in Room 5101 last spring, Ohlone named him coordinator.
“The program is about bridging the gap”, said Bandy.
Veterans enrolled at Ohlone can turn to the Center for a sense of camaraderie during a time of adjustment, something Bandy did not always have.
After coming home, he faced personal tragedy and went on a “downward spiral,” which included him being homeless. But after discovering he had options in education Bandy enrolled at Ohlone and graduated with honors in the spring of 2015.
During his time as a student, he sought out other veterans and with the help of Deborah Griffin, Director of Veteran Affairs, Bandy formed a Veterans Club.
The club would eventually become a precursor to the resource center, with both sharing a common goal: making veterans feel comfortable at Ohlone.
Since the center opened, it has continued to develop into a place for veterans to learn. The latest expansion has been the addition of tutors, who have been through the same acclimation process as current veteran students.
There are currently 79 veteran students at Ohlone and 69 of them have checked in at least once at the center.
Although they’re getting a taste of what is available, Bandy said he wants them to trust the process.
“It’s about getting them here on a regular basis,” he said. Uniting a group of people takes time and he wants to make sure veterans make the center part of their academic routine.
Another goal is to create a peaceful and interactive environment where veterans can relax and learn without getting distracted. It’s a place where they can stop by for a cup of coffee and talk about life and school.
“I see it as a place where I can come and be with other veterans who understand what I’ve been through,” said John Aguilar, who served in the Air Force as an F16 Crew Chief.
The continuous effort of the center will continue on Nov. 10th where there will be an all-day event held at Room 5101 which will include a panel and workshops.
The panel will consist of veterans currently enrolled at Ohlone who are expected to talk about their experiences and answer questions about the military and education.
With the help of Griffin and Trang Bahn, Bandy’s effort to assist veterans has already paid off and given what he’s experienced, the future of the center should be in good hands.