UCSB’s Student Veterans Organization and Future Leaders of America hosted a golf tournament fundraiser last Saturday at the Ocean Meadows Golf Course in Goleta.
As one of their largest local fundraisers to date, the tournament provides an opportunity for members of the community to speak with war veterans, including SVO president Victor Marta and FLA Board Chairman Raymond Morua. Proceeds went to both student organizations as well as the Wounded Warrior Project, a nonprofit organization designed to aid injured servicemen and women.
According to Ocean Meadows Golf Course general manager Simon Herrera, the nine-hole course at Ocean Meadows can accommodate up to 72 players. Herrera said he was impressed with how quickly news of the event spread since it began intensely publicizing itself last week, as 50 players were already signed up by the Tuesday before the tournament.
“You usually need about six to eight months to spread publicity so this turnout is phenomenal,” Herrera said. “We’re hoping to make this an annual event, on a larger scale. It would be great if we could get more members of the community to participate in the future.”
According to Morua, the idea for a collaborative fundraiser arose “naturally” when he and Marta visited Ocean Meadows in November of last year. Morua said the two of them came up with the idea for the event upon learning that both of them were war veterans and soon after, Herrera offered to provide grounds for the fundraiser.
Funds will cover costs for summer camps and conferences as well as help student veterans participate in these events, which provide insightful information on the potential benefits of post-military service life.
According to Marta, the tournament and other similar events can also foster more social ease between veterans and the community, as these “non-traditional” students and community members do not often hold equal access to all the opportunities offered to their peers.
“Unlike most college freshmen, veterans are not forced to live in the dorms so it can be much harder to make friends,” Marta said. “With the age difference, it can be harder to relate to 18 and 19-year-olds. When I first came to UCSB, I would just go to school [and] then go home.”
According to Marta, financial and social support for veterans at UCSB in the past few years has grown immensely with SVO currently holding 15 to 20 active members, out of the estimated 80 to 100 veterans on campus.
Academic and more social and community-driven events can work to gradually strengthen the veteran voice at UCSB, according to Morua.
“At first, [SVO] was created primarily to advocate for student veteran resources but we quickly noticed how many veterans isolate themselves from their peers and while some gravitate toward other veterans and find camaraderie, there are others out there who struggle,” Morua said. “We’re hoping to make the organization more social and to bring more veterans into the fold. They’re just people; some just don’t know how to come back home yet.”
A version of this article appeared on page 4 of January 14th, 2013’s print edition of the Nexus.