Friday, January 11, 2013



Citrus College Veterans Program Showcased at State Conference
By Paula Green


Citrus College’s nationally acclaimed Veterans Program was recently featured at the California Community College Veterans Summit in Redwood City.  The two-day conference addressed veterans’ issues and needs, as well as presented opportunities and programs that effectively serve student veterans.


During the summit’s opening reception, four Citrus College Theatre Department students--two of them student veterans--performed a scene from the play, The Bronze Star.  The play, which was recently presented at the college’s Haugh Performing Arts Center to sell-out audiences, was written by Citrus College History Instructor Dr. Bruce Solheim and Neil H. Weiss, Citrus College theater arts instructor and the play’s director.  It is based on a true story of a heroic, gay Vietnam veteran’s quest for acceptance and peace of mind in an intolerant society.  The Bronze Star has been also been selected as one of seven college productions in the United States to perform at the Regional American College Theater Festival in February 2013. 


The scene performed by the actors served as a catalyst for a group discussion that explored the significance of the play, as well as its impact upon both the actors and the audience.


“The actors told the audience what the play meant to them,” said Cherie Brown, Citrus College theater instructor and the play’s producer.  “The student veterans’ testimonies were very moving, as they expressed how much theatre arts has helped them work through their combat trauma.”


Citrus College student Anthony Vidales, who played the protagonist in The Bronze Star and participated in the scene at the Veterans Summit agreed.


“The arts saved me,” stated Vidales, a former Marine who is also a photographer.  “Art has been my therapy, and I highly recommend it to veterans who need to express themselves.”


“Citrus College is very fortunate to have faculty and staff who have built an outstanding veterans services program,” said Dr. Geraldine M. Perri, Citrus College’s superintendent/president.  “The program has helped student veterans transition into civilian life, access the services available to them, and complete their education.  As a result, many successful students are products of the Veterans Program, including two Citrus College “Man of the Year” recipients.”


Citrus College was also one of 19 California community colleges that submitted a video about their veterans support programs.  The video featured two Citrus College student veterans who shared their experiences and the challenges they encountered after their discharge from the military.  They also discussed how the Veterans Program has helped them in both their academic and their personal lives, and they shared their hopes for the future.  


“I am proud of the fact that Citrus College is a national leader in its services to student veterans,” stated Mrs. Susan M. Keith, president of the Citrus Community College District Board of Trustees. “This outstanding program is a stellar example of saying ‘thank you’ to the men and women who have bravely served our country.”