College of the Canyons has been awarded $200,000 in grant funding to continue its commitment to helping veterans, active duty members and dependents achieve their academic goals. With more than 600 veterans and dependents enrolling at COC annually, it’s considered crucial for the college to continue to increase the students’ access to services. “The funding will be used to establish new and enhanced services for veterans and dependents of veterans,” said Renard Thomas, the college’s director of the Veterans Resource Center. “With the projected growth of the Canyon Country community, one of our priorities is to improve services and access at the Veterans Resource Office on the Canyon Country campus.” Veterans at COC already possess access to services such as advisement, academic counseling and free tutoring, through the resource centers at the Valencia campus and the Canyon Country campus, college officials said, and staff and faculty participate in trainings to ensure they know the best ways to support student veterans, so it’s no surprise to see the population’s graduation and completion rate increase by 142 percent since 2012-13. The grant funding will help ensure the program can accommodate more students and extend office hours at the Canyon Country campus, which will increase accessibility, Thomas said. The veterans certification process will be improved and a more sophisticated communication system will engage students at every step of enrollment, from first contact to registration. An online orientation will also be a benefit for veterans, because it will allows those who are outside of the area to access their education benefits while they are exiting the military or at their residence.