New Veterans Center Opens At CSU San Marcos

The Veterans Center on the Cal State San Marcos University campus, Sept. 22, 2014.

The Veterans Center on the Cal State San Marcos University campus, Sept. 22, 2014.

Tuesday marked a ribbon-cutting for the new student veterans center at Cal State San Marcos, which was donated by engineering students in New Jersey.

"It's really going to be a place where students will be able to get assistance for transition from military to civilian life, support for their benefits, career guidance, and academic advising in a space for veteran's functions," said Scott Haag, vice president of enrollment management for CSUSM. "It's a place where students can be with family who understand their past experiences, successes and potential struggles."

The 1,000-square-foot energy-efficient building was donated by students at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, who designed and built it for the U.S. Department of Energy's 2013 Solar Decathlon. The structure was placed on a vacant lot adjacent to Science Hall 1 and Markstein Hall at CSUSM.

Haag said the center's "smart house" design is in line with the university's commitment to sustainability and conservation of resources.

About 11 percent of Cal State San Marcos students are veterans, service members, reservists, or spouses or other dependents, and that number is expected to grow as more military personnel retire or discharge and move into the civilian world, school officials said. The percentage is the highest in the California State University system.

The center replaces a smaller facility that opened in Craven Hall in 2008, and will offer military-affiliated students a kitchen, lounge, event space and a conference room. The students will also receive assistance in navigating the admissions process, accessing their GI benefits, registering for courses, accessing campus resources and getting involved in leadership and social activities.

KPBS Morning Edition anchor Deb Welsh contributed to this report.

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