Sonoma State University’s Veterans Services has supported roughly 300 student veterans and military dependents this semester alone, according to retired Veterans Affairs Director Peter Neville. As of April 4, the office has been renamed to Veterans Services, and relocated to Salazar 1000 due to Neville’s recent retirement.
After 11 years of working at Sonoma State, Neville decided to retire. Originally, Neville worked as Executive Director of the Student Union and after holding a multitude of positions, he assumed responsibility for the Veterans Affairs Office in 2014 to his retirement, this year.
When Susan Gutierrez, current director of financial aid, took the position, she decided to move the office to share the financial aid office in Salazar Hall and change the name to Veterans Services.
Gutierrez said the she chose the name Veterans Services because Veterans Affairs is too likely to be confused with the federal Department of Veterans Affairs.
“I think the name Veterans Services better describes the primary office function, which is to verify student enrollment for those receiving VA educational benefits and to process CalVet Tuition Fee waivers for our students who are dependents of veterans who had a service-related death or disability,” said Gutierrez. “The office also identifies the student-veterans eligible for priority registration each semester.”
According to the Sonoma State Veterans Services website, the university offers a number of support services for military veterans and dependents by managing student enrollment for those receiving United States Department of Veterans Affairs benefits and they process CalVet tuition fee waivers.
“I am proud of the opportunity to be involved in the services Sonoma State provides to our student-veterans and dependents of veterans,” said Gutierrez, “I believe combining reception services of Financial Aid and Veterans Services will be convenient for our students and their parents.”
Gutierrez works in the Veterans Affairs office with Julia Ibanez and student assistant and veteran, Chris Graham.
“I also have a personal connection to the value of supporting our student-veterans and their dependents. My father was a career military man who found his path out of poverty through the Air Force and Army. My husband was an Air Force sergeant when we first married, and we depended on his veterans education benefits when he finished his bachelor’s degree here at SSU,” said Gutierrez, “Without the opportunities provided by the US military and the programs for veterans, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
Veterans Services holds office hours Monday – Friday at 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. year round in a private office next to the Financial Aid Drop In Counseling Office to provide answers to questions and accept documentation from student-veterans.
More information can be found on their website at sonoma.edu/veterans or by calling the office at 664-2780.