by Blake Herzog
Special to PVVT
Palo Verde College will open a space dedicated to the needs of students who are military veterans on Nov. 12, with an event featuring a retired Air Force officer.
Retired Lt. Col. Mark Clifford, a Blythe native, will be the special guest at the celebration, which will be held from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the center within the campus’ Lucas Oil Technology building, at 1 College Way in Blythe.
The gathering will include a dedication ceremony, open house and tours.
Juan Rodriguez, an instructional services technician with the college, said the 364-square-foot space was carved out of the technology building to “be a safe quiet place for veterans to go and relax in between classes.”
It will also provide referrals for mental health services veterans might be needing, which haven’t been as available to them in the past, Rodriguez said.
“If they need to talk to someone we will be able to get them in contact with one of our counselors, or connect them with someone that specializes in dealing with veterans.”
He said PVC currently has five students who are veterans, out of a total of 7,913. Their graduation rates are the same as the rest of the student body, and last year two of them were the valedictorian and salutatorian of the graduating class.
The college provides other veterans’ services through its Financial Services office in the Student Services building, according to its website. These include information on benefits and services for veterans and assistance in filling out forms necessary to receive VA educational benefits.
Clifford is the son of Tom and Edie Clifford of Blythe, and moved to the area with them as a teenager. During his career he was a fuel loader for Air Force One, went on special operations missions to Afghanistan, Iraq, Qatar and Africa, and was a squadron commander at the U.S. air base in Daegu, South Korea.
Clilfford earned a PhD at the University of New Mexico and is now director of sports business at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix.