PCC improving troubled center for veterans

2013-11-07T17:30:00Z 2013-11-07T23:32:07Z PCC improving troubled center for veteransBy Carol Ann Alaimo Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Pima Community College is making good on a pledge to start treating its student veterans better.

The school’s tiny troubled center for veterans is getting a bigger home, a package of upgrades and new staffers to support those who served, the college announced Thursday.

“This is a big deal for us. We couldn’t be happier,” said Jonah Fontenot, 36, a former Army truck driver who now attends PCC.

The changes come on the heels of a recent investigation that led to the termination of two PCC administrators and the resignation of a third employee accused of harassing student veterans.

PCC’s current veterans center, not much bigger than a walk-in closet, opened in 2011 at a cost of $30,000 but was so ill-conceived and mismanaged it barely functioned, student veterans said.

A row of computers, for example, was installed so that users had to sit with their backs to a door, making them useless to veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder who often panic when they can’t see who’s behind them.

That problem, and others, will be corrected when the center moves into much larger quarters in the Roosevelt Building on the Downtown Campus.

Square footage will expand from 300 to about 1,500. The new site will have an improved quiet room and study areas, a conference room, kitchenette and other amenities.

PCC also is adding three staffers to provide support services for student veterans.

The total cost of the improvements wasn’t available Thursday.

PCC Chancellor Lee Lambert, an Army veteran, said in a news release the changes were made after extensive consultation with students.

“The veterans talked, we listened, and the result is a new center that meets their needs,” he said.

The upgraded facility is due to open in January.

Contact reporter Carol Ann Alaimo at calaimo@azstarnet.com or at 573-4138.

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