ACC veterans have USO-inspired resource center, a place to relax, study, snack

ACC veterans have USO-inspired resource center, a place to relax, study, snack

Geraldine Smith, Arapahoe Pinnacle Editor

“On this day let us solemnly remember the sacrifices of all those who fought so valiantly on the seas, in the air and on foreign shores to preserve our heritage of freedom…”

And thus, President Dwight D. Eisenhower changed Armistice Day, the commemoration of the end of World War I, to Veterans Day on Nov. 11, 1952, to honor and thank all who served.

When the words ”Thank You” are simply not adequate, gratitude can be shown in ways that express the sentiment louder and more eloquently than any words.  ACC’s thank you to the men and women who risked their lives to defend their country echoes deafeningly through the halls in the form of programs and support supplied by the Veterans Club and Veterans Services Center. Transition from military life to the once familiar civilian life is like any other transition, a little daunting and a lot bewildering as veterans navigate the bureaucratic maze of benefits, programs and corresponding paperwork.

Nov. 11 may be the official day to honor veterans, but the ACC support system honors these men and women everyday by an enduring presence.  Presence can mean interpreting convoluted government language or being available to have a cup of coffee and chat.

Gina Wenzel Garza, Financial Advisor and VA Coordinator, said, “Sometimes it just helps for them to be around others[once in the military or deployed] who understand the experience.”

The Veterans Club offers intangible support, and it has established a Veteran Resource Center(lounge) in room 1605, next to Veterans Services on the Littleton campus. The ACC website says that the Veterans Resource Center is open to all ACC veterans and is a welcoming space dedicated to promote camaraderie and support among the ACC military veteran community.

Although not officially affiliated with the USO, the intent is the same.  It provides a place for the former servicemen to congregate, have a cup of coffee or work on their studies.  Donated paper, snacks, lunch items and coffee are readily available free of charge in the lounge, and the interior room offers a “pantry” with donated lunch food or non-perishables to eat in the lounge or take home.

Garza says about 250 veterans at ACC take advantage of the benefits offered, but many more veterans attend ACC who do not participate despite continuing outreach efforts.  Even the existence of the lounge isn’t common knowledge among vets.  The Veteran Club BBQ today is, in part, an attempt to bring more attention to the services, especially the lounge.

“A young veteran said she had been at ACC for three semesters and had no idea the resource center existed until a couple of days ago,” Garza said.

The Veterans Club, like the men and women they serve, gives back whenever possible.  Teaming up with the Sustainability Club, it has placed boxes in the halls asking for clothing donations for the homeless of Denver.

Donations of snacks, coffee, soup, other nonperishable foods or school supplies always are a welcome addition to the club’s lounge.

For more information contact: [email protected] or 303.797.5934, room 1605 Littleton Campus. More information: