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Veteran Student Finds His Way at Santa Ana College

​After four years in the U.S. Marine Corps as an infantry corporal with deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, 25-year-old Jonathan Jones sustained a brain injury. Jones says he wasn’t a very good student in high school and hadn’t considered going to college until then. However, he’s married with two children and needed to figure out how to make his way as a civilian.

As he recovered from his injury, which left him with memory issues, he decided that a career in criminal justice made sense to him. He could put his hard-earned military skills to use as a civilian and make a good living. An Orange County native, he discovered Santa Ana College’s (SAC) criminal justice program and enrolled at the college in 2010.
Shortly after beginning at SAC, he discovered the Veterans Resource Center (VRC). He says, “These guys helped me feel comfortable. I was completely lost transitioning to college and civilian life,” says Jones. “I can’t stress enough how important this center is. It is 90 percent of why I stayed in school.”

Not only did the VRC offer Jones guidance that supported his academic success, but the center also gave him a job. For two years, he has worked at the VRC helping other veterans who like him were adjusting to civilian life. Among other things, he offers a listening ear to fellow veterans. Being able to open up to somebody who has gone through what they have is so important he says.

Because of his commitment to remembering the sacrifices that veterans have made, this spring he spearheaded the effort to bring the Wall of Remembrance to SAC. The wall commemorates the names of all those who lost their lives on 9/11 as well as the soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice during the War on Terror.

Within a semester, Jones plans on transferring to Arizona State University to complete a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. For now, he tells other veterans, “Try college out, you’ll enjoy it and with veteran benefits, it’s highly doable.”

The VRC and the college provide the following services:

  • Access to a certifying official to assist veterans with accessing Veterans Assistance (VA) educational benefit;
  • Specialized academic counseling;
  • Customized orientation and academic skills workshops for veterans;
  • A quiet study area with access to computers, the Internet, and a printer;
  • Priority registration and accommodation for veterans with disabilities;
  • Board of Governors and in-state tuition fee waivers;
  • Access to child development services, campus job opportunities, and health and wellness services.

For more information, contact the Veterans Resource Center at (714) 564-6050.