Santa Monica College received a hefty $41,000 donation from an American Legion post in the Pacific Palisades, college officials said Monday.
American Legion Post 283 is no stranger to donating money to the campus, and last year alone gifted SMC more than $40,000 for emergency loans and veteran services.
“Most of us feel we don’t want the returning vets from Iraq and Afghanistan to be treated the way Vietnam vets were,” said Dave Borgeson, first vice commander of American Legion Post 283.
The SMC Board of Trustees will recognize the American Legion post’s donation at its meeting today, Tuesday, Feb. 5.
“We are so grateful to the American Legion for its incredible support of a special population at SMC for whom counseling is critical at many levels,” said Linda Sinclair, faculty leader of the SMC Veterans Resource Center.
Sinclair said SMC doesn’t have nearly enough money to provide counseling for the 700 veterans in the student body. “It sometimes takes over three hours for a student veteran to wait to see a counselor,” she said.
Counseling is critical for veterans who aside from academic advising need guidance to receive necessary disabled student benefits and navigate complex rules and regulations which govern veteran benefits.
“These young men and women have come back from wars and have seen some terrible things,” Borgeson said. “Their experiences are much different than the high school students entering college, and they need guidance from specially trained counselors. We want to be sure these veterans get the services they need.”
The majority of the donation is going to counseling with $5,000 being allocated to a veterans’ emergency fund and $1,000 for supplies and printing.