American Legion Post 283 Supports SMC Veterans
By Dr. Barbara K. Ige
“Mutual helpfulness,” “continued devotion,” and “sense of obligation to community,” these are values that inspire those who read them and more for whom they are written. Written by the American Legion for those who have fought and died for this country, today the Legion is often the only voice for the veterans and is “the organization [that] belongs to the people it serves and the communities in which it thrives.”
For the five World War I veterans who founded the Pacific Palisades American Legion Post 283 in 1928, they probably never imaged that more than 75 years later, their legacy would provide crucial funding to help support Santa Monica College’s returning veterans. Without their financial assistance, and that of other SMC departments and external grants, the SMC Veterans’ Resource Center (VRC) would not exist. The VRC has no budget of its own and struggles each year to provide the much needed services that our veterans deserve.
Under the current California State budget, the VRC had no way to provide the academic and personal counseling hours this past summer or for the current fall semester. It is because of all of the external funding that the VRC has been able to provide even limited service. As demand for VRC’s services has grown, students have had to wait more than 2 hours to see a VRC counselor. It is mandatory that the students have their classes and program of study approved by a specialized counselor familiar with VA rules and regulations.
This past summer, Post 283 made a very generous $10,000 donation that enabled the VRC to hire a second academic counselor. As fate would have it, psychologist Dr. Kym McBride’s familiarity with the special needs of student veterans made her a great match for the VRC.
Unfortunately, without permanent funding, the VRC again would have been unable to keep Dr. McBride on staff this fall. However, true to their motto, with “mutual helpfulness,” Post 283 came to the VRC’s rescue with a generous donation of $15,000, allowing for Dr. McBride to see students 9 hours per week. Additionally, Post 283 provided the VRC with $5,000 for a student emergency fund that is used when veterans have special needs that they cannot cover.
Post 283’s generosity has provided more than financial resources, as Director Linda Sinclair said, “The Legion is very supportive of our veteran students and is very concerned about their welfare. We are so fortunate to have been included in their great generosity!”
These most recent donations are in line with the Post 283’s history of generosity. They donated funds to build the Fisher House at the West Los Angeles VA, where families of veterans being treated at the VA hospital can stay while their loved one is being cared for. Post 283 also purchased high-end equipment for the VA hospital. Director Sinclair describes the impact Post 283 has had, “They make many other donations in the community that benefit all veterans.”With Post 238’s support, the Santa Monica and SMC communities of veterans have been able to thrive and heal.
To learn more about the VRC, visit their website, and to learn more about the American Legion, Post 283 visit: http://www.post283.org/
L-R: Linda Sinclair (Faculty Leader), Audra Penchansky (FIPSE Project Manager), Dave Borgenson (American Legion Officer), Sean Jones and Joshua Foch (SMC Student Veterans), Kevin Niles (American Legion Officer), Denise Ottinger (SMC Student Veteran), Christian O’Donnell (President, SMC Student Veteran Association), Lt. Col. Tammy Duckworth (former Assistant Secretary, Veteran’s Administration), and Robert Contreras (SMC Student Veteran and past President, SMC Student Veteran Association).