PC Veteran Memorial

Maria Roman, Veteran Resource Center counselor and coordinator, describes the proposed Veteran Memorial on Wednesday that will stand on campus at Porterville College.

Maria Roman wants to see memorial finished

The proposed Veteran Memorial at Porterville College hopes to bring together the veterans and citizens of Porterville to reflect on the many sacrifices of those who serve in the armed forces make and the new PC Veterans Resource Center (VCR) counselor/coordinator is working to see it come to fruition.

The project was initially proposed in August 2015 to the board members of the Rotary Club of Porterville and was unanimously accepted.

The purpose of the memorial’s presence is to bring honor and dignity to veterans who have served and sacrificed for the country, remind generations of students over the years of the men and women who have served and are currently serving and connect the Porterville College campus with other colleges and universities across the nation in recognizing their veteran students.

One of the proposers of the memorial was Steve Schultz, a veteran and — at the time — coordinator/counselor of the VRC.

Maria Roman, the new counselor/coordinator of the VRC, took over the position about a month ago after Schultz retired in May. She had already been a counselor at the college since 2001.

Roman is not a veteran, but she said her daughter has been serving in the military for the past seven years.

Roman said she told all the veterans at the VRC she is honored to be their counselor/coordinator and she approaches the position with the perspective of a mother who has a daughter that serves in the armed forces.

Porterville College is one of the few colleges in the state that has a resource center for veterans and Roman said they are extremely important.

“The students come here, they feel comfortable, I’m getting to know them by first name,” Roman said.

The VRC currently serves 74 veterans, but also serves dependents, spouses and children of veterans, Roman said.

Roman said veterans are visible in the community and the VRC is only one of the many veterans’ organizations in Porterville.

“We have a duty to serve them,” Roman said. “They’ve served for us. We do have an obligation to them.”

Roman said her job is to be at the disposal of the veteran students, not only help them academically but also socially. She said they have regular meetings and a calendar full of events.

Val Garcia, Porterville College vice president of student services, said the VRC is the apple of the college’s eye.

The VRC is a place that serves veterans and provides them with the support they need when they transition back to education, Garcia said.

Garcia said it’s difficult for some people to transition from a very regimented, hierarchical life to one of free-flowing thought and expression.

“We need to give them a space to have that transition where they can be with other students who walk the walk like they did and be able to share those experiences,” Garcia said. “They’re learning how to transition, how to talk in a classroom setting and how to act in a college setting.”

The on-campus memorial will be a place where students, staff, faculty and members of the community could go to reflect on the sacrifices veterans have made in their lives

Community members can buy bricks in honor of veterans that will be displayed at the memorial with their engraved name, branch of service and dates of service on them.

The bricks are on special sale for $110 until Veterans Day, they are normally sold for $150. There are only 741 bricks available for purchase.

It’s a personal goal of Roman’s to get sponsored bricks for all of the student veterans at Porterville College.

“The majority of these students rely on V.A. benefits or financial aid for their living expenses, so many of them cannot afford that $110,” Roman said.

It is only the second year that the VRC has been around and Roman said she really wants to get the word out to the community about all of the good things the center is doing.

Roman also said not all student veterans utilize the center and she wants them to know about the services, including free printing, a computer lab, a lounge with TV, snacks, coffee and water, a lot of which is donated by the community,

The Student Veterans Organization plans to build a replica of the memorial and unveil it to the public during the Veterans Day Parade, Roman said.

Garcia said the memorial is sponsored by the Rotarians who wanted to give back to the veteran community.

“It’s for the community, by the community,” Garcia said. “Which I think speaks very highly of our community.”

The memorial must get approval from the state before it can be constructed because Porterville College is on state-owned property, Garcia said. He said the college hopes to get final approval by the beginning of spring.

The memorial will face north from the administration building to the science building and be nestled between the existing boulders under giant cypress trees.

The site plan drawing includes five benches around the memorial perimeter where students can sit and reflect.

When finished, the monument will be dedicated to all Porterville College veterans.

To order the bricks go online to www.fundraisingbrick.com/portervillerotary.

Companies or individuals can also help fund the construction of the Veteran’s Memorial by making checks out to Porterville Rotary Club Foundation and mailing them to 831 W. Morton Ave., Porterville.

Questions can be answered at 784-4045 or admin@portervillerotary.org.

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