On Saturday, April 6, former and current military members from across the San Gabriel Valley gathered at Azusa Pacific University for the first annual Military and Veteran Resource Fair. The event, hosted by APU’s Office of Military and Veteran Resources (OMVR) in collaboration with the San Gabriel Valley Veteran Employment Committee (SGV VEC), the Employment Development Department (EDD), and the Vet Hunters Project, brought together more than 50 organizations that provide veterans and their families with healthcare, career assistance, and education.
“APU offers a variety of options for returning veterans to obtain a college education while using their educational benefits,” said Vic Bezjian, DBA, executive director of APU’s Office of Military and Veterans Resources. “Higher education can be very complex for veterans. Our office helps veterans navigate the admissions and enrollment process, while coordinating with various offices at APU.”
In addition to APU, Citrus College, The Art Institute, and Everest College Phoenix provided veterans with information regarding undergraduate programs and financial aid opportunities. The Goodwill Veteran Employment Program and the San Gabriel Valley Veteran Employment Committee (SGV VEC) offered job placement and preparation services while CareMore Health Plan focused on health care information.
Jason Jones, an APU graduate student and former Navy ship serviceman 2nd class petty officer, organized the event in response to the increasingly high levels of poverty and homelessness among veterans in the San Gabriel Valley. Jones, currently pursing a Master of Business Administration, is passionate about helping veterans make strong choices and informing them about the resources they have earned and can use to succeed.
“Many enlist in the military to improve their circumstances, but after completion of their military service, most still have no knowledge of what services are available to them,” said Jones. “This fair sought to bring awareness. By sharing information, veterans realize many opportunities exist. For instance, thanks to the Yellow Ribbon Program, which APU participates in, many veterans can get a college education at nearly no cost through the veteran scholarship that helps cover the unmet portion of tuition.”
This resource fair represents one of many ways Azusa Pacific seeks to help veterans both on and off campus. The university was named a 2012–13 Military Friendly School by G.I. Jobs magazine in recognition of its successful efforts providing its military students with quality programs, discounts, scholarships, clubs, networking, and staff support. Over the last year, the number of veteran students at APU increased by 38 percent.