More than 200 people, including Riverside County Supervisor John Benoit, military personnel and faculty, turned out for Palm Desert College of the Desert’s dedication ceremony for its new Bighorn Golf Club Charities Veterans Resource Center Thursday.
For years, the school’s vets center has been a tiny office that barely fit five people, said Donni Prince, veterans specialist who has headed the COD resource program for vets since 1973.
But in the past five years, the Palm Desert college has seen its enrollment of veterans double to more than 500, said COD President Joel Kinnamon during a dedication ceremony Thursday morning for a new 1,000-square-foot Palm Desert Veterans Center.
The hour long ceremony and tour of the center was part of the school’s annual Veterans Day celebration.
Each of the five branches of the armed forces was celebrated with the placing of flags of the Army, Marine Corps, Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard by students who either have or are serving.
The expanded center, with computers and cubicles, as well as community study and lounge areas, was made possible by a $150,000 donation from the Bighorn Golf Club Charities. Academic counseling, tutoring, mental health services, assistance for vets and their families to access their VA benefits, are among the services provided for free in the center that bears the Bighorn name.
It’s important to connect with others who have seen and experienced what they have in their military service, and the Palm Desert Veterans Resource Center makes it easier to do that, knowing there is a communal place where they can gather, share stories and “talk military jargon.