Cypress College's Project Green Zone helps veterans transition from combat to campus

John Gregory Image
Sunday, March 31, 2019
Cypress College program helps vets transition into civilian life
A Cypress College program is helping veterans adapt and thrive on campus by offering resources, mentoring and career counseling.

CYPRESS, Calif. (KABC) -- Veterans face many obstacles on the battlefield, but there can be lots of challenges that lie ahead after they come home and transition into civilian life.

One of the biggest issues involves veterans who want to continue their education, or get a certificate in a professional training program. Going back to campus can be tough, especially since many veterans may not fit the traditional student mold.

That's where Project Green Zone comes in.

"Vets are different. They are older, they bring different experiences to college here on campus," said Juan Garcia, Director of the Veteran Resource Center.

Project Green Zone, which is part of the Veteran Resource Center, has been helping vets transition to life on campus at Cypress College since 2011.

One of those people is Steven Vargas, a former Marine who served two tours in Afghanistan.

"I was an alcoholic, depressed. And this job, this school, it saved my life," Vargas said.

Vargas says Project Green Zone gave him someone he could connect with when he left the military. Someone he could turn to who understood the issues he was dealing with.

He's convinced though, that the military could also do more to help vets transition to the civilian world.

"It's hundreds of thousands of dollars to train us, but they don't train us to become civilians," Vargas said. "They don't teach us to turn off the button."

Project Green Zone is hoping to fill that gap.

Vets can look for a home plate symbol on campus to find someone in the program.

The peer-to-peer mentoring program is especially valuable. Often, it's another vet who understands where they have been and what they have been through.

Other services provided by the Veteran's Resource Center at Cypress College include guidance with applying for benefits, registration and academic and career counseling.