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Troops to College

Military helicopter landing on aircraft carrier Individuals who have served or are currently serving in the US Armed Forces can avail themselves of educational opportunities to develop skills which will benefit themselves and the communities in which they live.

Veterans or current servicemen and women who reside in California or who are stationed in California can take advantage of the state's wealth of postsecondary educational options - including community colleges as well as four-year degree granting institutions.

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Troops to College Transcript

Jeff Weston:
After being in the military you’re definitely given a different perspective on life. And you have a broader horizon of things.

Kathy Shott:
Transitioning from military life, which is very structured to a campus life, which is pretty much unstructured, it was tough at times – now we’re standing up and saying we are veterans and we’re here at Sac State.

Jeff Weston:
We’re trying to attract veterans and make Sacramento State the campus that they choose to come to when they come back to California.

Sacramento State has long celebrated the campus’ diverse student population and taken pride in the support the university provides for them to achieve their goals. Groups such as the college assistant migrant program and the guardian scholars -- ensure that all students have the help they need to succeed. That support extends to the men and women of our armed forces and their dependents with Troops to College, a new program that helps veterans make the transition from military to university life.

Alexander Gonzalez:
I think our program is second to none. I think what makes it so unique is the fact that we have a passion that’s very, very clear. Not only in part of the director or the students enrolled in the program, but I think generally across the university and the community.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the program into law in 2006 from an idea proposed by a retired marine colonel, Bucky Peterson of Sonoma State University.

Bucky Peterson:
While I was our vice president at Sonoma State, I became interested in the veteran population on campus. I found out that we didn’t have that many at Sonoma State, and I later learned that was true throughout California. We just didn’t have a lot of veterans on our public campuses. So I talked to Chancellor Reed about it, and he fast-tracked the issue to Governor Schwarzenegger who coined and started the program called Troops to College.

Charles Caraway:
When I joined the student veteran organization, which is part of the Troops to College, it helped me realize that the school is more of not just a place that I come to school, then go home and forget about – it’s more of a community experience that allowed me to set up networks. It allowed me to walk through the campus – recognize certain peoples, have certain peoples recognize me. This in turn, made the whole college experience more fulfilling to me. Instead of being a 27-year old former Marine, now I feel more like I’m a student and that I fit in, because I know there’s other students like me.

The state program offers assistance and priority placement to veterans, but it does not include funds to directly support them.

Austin Sihoe:
I realized that there was over 600-700 vets that were going here. To me that was a happy surprise I guess, because then I know that there were a lot of other people that were in my shoes that are going to school now that have had almost the same experiences I do.

Kathy Shott:
The Troops to College program is a program that should’ve been on the campuses a long time ago, not just now. This is so beneficial to troops making the transition back into the civilian world or even troops that have been in the military and are hoping to get further in the military by going into an officer program. This is something that is not only great here on campus, but I can see it growing in the future to help veterans as they come back find their way on what they want to do; not get lost out there and become the homeless veterans that are out there. Maybe if somebody had been there to help them along, maybe they’d be in a better situation too.

In 2007 Sacramento State worked with members of the University Foundation and the Safe Credit Union and launched a campaign to raise money for scholarships to veterans and their family members.

George Crandell:
It was surprising to learn that we have over 1,000 students on campus that are eligible, that are vets or dependents. And that they face a number of challenges, some of which are faced by students at large, but others that are somewhat unique to them. One of them is that the GI Bill doesn’t cover all of their expenses and often, at least for freshmen, doesn’t kick in until 30, 60, 90 days after they’ve started the semester, in which case they are short money to buy books and supplies and just to cover their basic expenses. It sort of hit myself and the other board members when we heard this. We had a group realization that “Gee, the troops are returning in increasing numbers, we should be proud of them, and express that pride at every opportunity that we get.”

Sacramento State will raise over $100,000 to help support our troops and veterans. Thanks to many of you, and many like you. The program is off to a great start.

Henry Wirz:
SAFE Credit Union has been part of this community since 1941. We were originally chartered to serve the military and civilians that worked at McClellan Air Force Base. It’s just a natural for us to be part of this Troops to College program. We’ve always supported the military, we’ve always been grateful for those that defend our nation, and for that reason we have supported this program and of course we also think that Sacramento State is a wonderful institution. Two good investments together are almost an unbeatable combination.

It is a commitment that not only recognizes the value of education, but the importance of honoring our heroes.

Jeff Weston:
The greatest satisfaction is seeing students get through their programs. Seeing students who have set certain goals for themselves, achieve that. And it’s really great to see them come back and talk to other students and say, “This is how I did it.”

Alexander Gonzalez:
It’s something that I think as people become more aware of the troops to college program, and the fact that we have veterans here on this campus and that we are serving them very, very well. I think it’s going to become even more significant for the system and for the campus as well.  

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