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Around Town: Student veterans and the future

October 30, 2013|By Anita S. Brenner

Because La Cañada doesn't have a Veterans Day celebration on Nov. 11, my husband, Len, and I have joined the four-city Pasadena Veterans Day 2013 Committee.

It's a four-city committee because its members come from Pasadena, La Cañada, South Pasadena and San Marino, what our son, Andrew, used to call “the bubble.”

The bubble is a magic place where kids grow up as part of an interlocking circle of schools, public and private; the parents know each other from Indian Guides, Gollatz Cotillion or AYSO, and the police occasionally stop a kid asking to take a look at the original engine in a vintage Cougar. Most kids learn to ride a bike, roller skate or drive a car in between the baby strollers at the Rose Bowl. Halloween is still a community-wide event, and there are lots of parades.

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The Veterans Day Committee is awesome because it includes members of the Navy League, USS Pasadena Foundation, John Watkins, two former Pasadena mayors, a couple of PCC professors and lots of veterans and lawyers. Everyone pitches in.

If you don't know Watkins, come meet him on Nov. 11 at 9:30 a.m. in front of Pasadena City Hall. There'll be free parking. Watkins is an 88-year-old dynamo who keeps me on my toes. He'll be the emcee for this year's event, which honors our local community college, PCC.

PCC deserves kudos because it has consistently ranked No. 1 in the state (and seventh in the nation) as veteran-friendly campus. Credit goes to veterans coordinator Patricia D'Orange-Martin and her caseworker, Carol Calandra, who are selflessly committed to creating a successful and supportive environment for PCC's student veterans.

D'Orange-Martin and Calandra do important work. It is estimated that by the end of 2014, there will be two million young civilian veterans of these long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. By 2015, one million of these veterans will be enrolled in college.

It's not an easy road. V.A. benefits and work-study programs are complex and unpredictable, so there's a small but predictable number of homeless student veterans. The transition to civilian life requires patience, and hitting the books can be tough. D'Orange-Martin and Calandra have collaborated with numerous private organizations to provide resources for these young vets.

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