A place to call home

LMC vet center opens

Los Medanos College’s Veterans Resource Center opened its doors Thursday, April 28.

Students, faculty and staff crowded the third floor of the College Complex to witness the ribbon cutting. There was a salute and everyone stood as a trumpeter from LMC played the “Star Spangled Banner.”

“I’ve been proud of many things at LMC but never prouder than this,” said LMC President Bob Kratochvil who — of the scheduled speakers — was the first to congratulate the student vets and thank everyone who had a hand in making sure the center was opened.

“Having a resource center will put us in a position to have even more student veterans,” he said.

“Veterans resource centers are hallmarks of student success,” said Kratochvil. “The first step is creating space, the second is equipping it.”

Contra Costa County Community College District Governing Board President Vicki Gordon approached the lectern and thanked the community for supporting local veterans. “We are celebrating today because we got a lot of help from the community,” said Gordon.

Kratochvil then introduced District Chancellor Helen Benjamin.

“We are opening a veterans center at each of our colleges and this is the very first one,” said Benjamin. “To be the first one is quite an honor.”

She then went on to say that having a center on campus is important because it supports “a very special group of students.”

Kratochvil then introduced CEO and Board Chairman of the Sentinels of Freedom Scholarship Fund Mike Conklin.

“We appreciate his willingness to help with our college,” said Kratochvil of Conklin.

Conklin thanked everyone for their support and attendance and said he was especially proud of the steps LMC has taken to open the center considering the fact that “we don’t take a dime from the federal government.”

“Veterans never stop serving,” said Conklin, and as such, they deserve a space where they could thrive.

Veterans Club representative Brenda Cato, spoke next and thanked everyone involved who helped get the center opened.

“We now have a place we can go get help,” said Cato. “We can relive the camaraderie we had while under the flag.”

She noted there are hardships for vets because they have a hard time transitioning back into everyday life.

“Transition and change bring forth a new mindset which isn’t always easy for veterans,” she said, adding that having services for veterans on campus makes the transition easier.

“This resource center gives us hope for the future,” said Cato. “Thanks for keeping your promises and thank you for giving us a home.”

After the speeches, representatives from the offices of U.S. congressmen Jerry McNerney and Mark DeSaulnier and state representatives Jim Frazier and Susan Bonilla presented certificates to LMC for opening the resource center. Kratochvil, after accepting the certificates on behalf of the school, thanked each person and campus organization that was involved in the development of the center.

A certificate of Congressional Recognition was given to Veteran and LMC student Tito Ramos for his “commitment to aiding all of veterans of our region.”

After the ribbon was cut, Kratochvil officially opened the center for touring.