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The University of California, Irvine enacted a new policy on April 1, 2011 guaranteeing housing for veteran students, including both those who serve in the reserves and active duty service members.

The housing policy has made it possible for veteran students, both single and those with families, to reside on-campus for the time it takes them to achieve their degree. Older veterans are also able to select housing options in graduate communities, including Palo Verde and Verano Place. The policy was designed to make a veteran’s transition to university life easier as well as provide incentive for attending UC Irvine. The Veteran Service Office says its goal is to make every day Veterans Day.

Although the policy passed in April of this year, very few veterans  participated until only recently. Staff at the Veteran Services Office worked to raise awareness over the past six months. Evidently, the new program has proved to be a major determining factor for how veterans select campuses.

“Basically, we’re here to make sure veterans get the benefits to which they’re entitled and help them with any academic, personal or housing needs,” said Adeli Duron, the Coordinator of UCI Veteran Services. “We also conduct outreach and as a result have more than 120 veterans enrolled this year.”

For Tanishia Santana, a U.S. Army veteran and sociology major, the guaranteed housing policy helped her to easily select housing for her and her 9-year-old daughter, Nyla.

“The guaranteed housing for veterans was also a factor in selecting campuses,” said Santana. “It let me plan ahead when the lease was up on my previous housing, and I was able to budget appropriately and register my daughter for school on time, since I had an address far in advance.”

“It’s actually an advantage instead of being on a waiting list,” continued Santana. “I didn’t have to wait to hear about housing and that helped a lot.”

Santana’s story is not uncommon; many veterans who attend UC Irvine must support families through work in addition to attending classes. Santana now works part-time at the Veteran Service Office after being impressed with the amount of care and help she received during her transition.

“It helped me out tremendously by alleviating the stress of searching for a place to live and allowing me to focus on other details of the university application process,” explained Santana.

Aside from guaranteed housing, veterans may also receive priority registration, allowing them to maintain a full-time student status.  Other benefits offered by the Veteran Services Office range from educational counseling and career guidance to disability  and health care services.

“Often they need help initially with the registration process,” Duron said. “And in the Office of the Dean of Students, we pride ourselves on the number of leadership opportunities we provide, both on and off the campus, through clubs and organizations or volunteer work.”

To register for guaranteed housing, one must show proof of military affiliation of veteran status. This means turning in proper forms to the Veteran Service Office and selecting military affiliation when registering on the housing website for a preferred community.

For more information, students can visit the Veteran Service Office at its new location at the Student Center in room G304 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

“It’s very new,” Santana said. “A lot of people are getting word of it from the Veteran Service Office here so hopefully we’ll have more people that take advantage of it in the coming years.”

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