City’s Veterans for Peace first college chapter in the nation

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City’s Veterans for Peace first college chapter in the nation

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The San Diego City College student veterans club was given a charter by the Veterans for Peace organization Sept. 27, making it the first chapter of Veterans for Peace on a college campus.

The official charter came in a mailed envelope at the last minute during the grand opening of the Veterans Services Center on campus.

Barry Ladendorf, president of the San Diego Veterans for Peace chapter 91, said that the process to charter the club was hastened to coincide with the opening of the center.

“It went through pretty fast in the end,” he said, “We went to work and got the national board members all to send in a mail vote.”

Gene Marx, secretary of the VFP national board of directors, said he became aware of the campus organization over a year ago when the efforts of its co-founder and past-president Maurice Martin were noticed by a VFP staffer, via a link in an email.

“It turns out it was a campus club,” Marx said, “(And) we were looking to go there. We wanted to get some campus involvement (and) reach out to young vets.”

Maria Mustacchio is president of the new chapter.

“We’re just ecstatic,” she said of the charter, “I’m actually overwhelmed.”

The veterans center opened after spring break in April. Dean of Student Development Helen Elias said the center was the product of a flex session in the spring in which student veterans presented their need to faculty for a safe haven for veterans.

The center provides services for veterans such as simple mentoring from other veterans on how to navigate the campus and tutoring. The center offers computer workstations as well as a lounge area.

“The veterans center is a safe place for the veterans to come in and study, it’s a quiet zone,” Mustacchio said. “(Also) Mental health services here on campus just (received) a grant to offer a few hours a week of mental health services.”

The center also offers group sessions for veterans and their spouses, Mustacchio said

City College President Terry Burgess cut the ribbon at the opening ceremony.

“This is the realization of a dream I’ve had for the last 12 years,” Burgess said.

Burgess said that he conducted a census of the veteran population affiliated with City College and found that the veteran community represents more than 18 percent of enrolled students, counting veterans and their dependents.

Costs for the center were covered by donations from the National Organization for Veterans and Veterans for Peace, among others.

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