Veterans Center

Meet the Staff

Joan Putnam Portrait
Joan Putnam
Joan and Art Barron Veterans Center Director

As director of the SDSU Joan and Art Barron Veterans Center, Joan Putnam directs the Center which serves as the hub for all student veteran support services on campus. This includes all aspects of the veteran benefit programs for SDSU's undergraduate and graduate veterans, active duty military, reservists, and dependents. She also oversees SDSU's Veterans House.

Joan chairs the SDSU Veterans Scholarship Committee, is co-chair of the SDSU Troops to College working group, serves on the SDSU War Memorial Committee and team-teaches a "Military to Student" transition class. She has served as a Secretarial appointee to the Department of Veterans Affairs Veterans' Advisory Committee on Education. Her commitment to veterans extends beyond her work life – her father was a World War II veteran.

Todd Kennedy Portrait
Todd Kennedy
Military & Veterans Program Administrator

As the Military & Veterans Program Administrator, Todd oversees the daily operation of the Barron Veterans Center; represents the University at various regional, state, and national venues; is responsible for the implementation of new military/veteran support programming; and is an advocate, adviser, and troubleshooter for administrative and transition challenges faced by the military student body. He came to San Diego State University following a 22 year career in the United States Marine Corps and completed his undergraduate degree in History (summa cum laude) in 2016. He is a past-president of the Student Veteran Organization at SDSU; maintains involvement in a number of volunteer and philanthropic ventures; and stays committed to the overall academic success, professional development, and personal growth of today's military and veteran students.

Holly Shaffner Portrait
Holly Shaffner
Military Liaison Officer

Holly Shaffner joined the Barron Veterans Center team in December 2015 and she is a recent graduate of SDSU San Diego State University earning her degree in Journalism with an emphasis in Public Relations. She retired from the United States Coast Guard after serving 24 years in operational and staff assignments in both enlisted and officer ranks. Holly is responsible for outreach with local military bases and the veteran community in the San Diego area. She also serves as the campus military liaison for CSU California State University and SDSU “Troops to College” admissions programs which includes tracking the retention of veterans admitted under these programs. As a student, she was involved in the SDSU Student Veteran Organization and off campus she is integrated into the community serving active duty, veterans and families. Holly can be contacted at or (619) 594-0834.

Vanessa Quiñones Portrait
Vanessa Quiñones
Veterans Coordinator

Vanessa started working in the Joan and Art Barron Veterans Center in fall 2016 where she assists San Diego State University veterans, active duty, reserve and military spouses/dependent students achieve their educational goals and plans various campus based military-related functions and events. She comes from a military family - father Retired Senior Chief in the US Navy and brother a former US Marine Corps Sergeant, and is passionate about her work assisting all military connected students. She is currently pursing her undergraduate degree in Business Administration. Vanessa can be contacted at or (619) 594-0496.

Jose Esparza Portrait
Jose Esparza
Joan and Art Barron Veterans Center Assistant

Jose Esparza has served in the United States Navy from 2002 to 2008 and is currently a Naval Reservist stationed at Naval Air Station, North Island. During his active duty enlistment, he served as a Master-at-Arms performing a variety of military law enforcement functions while stationed overseas in Sasebo, Japan and aboard the USS Ronald Reagan ported in San Diego, CA. Following his separation from active service, Jose attended the University of California at San Diego completing his bachelor’s degree in Sociology in 2014. Jose began working at the Baron Veteran’s Center in 2015 where he assists San Diego State University veterans, active duty, reserve and military dependent students with their education benefits available through both the US and California Departments of Veteran Affairs.

Fatima Peyton Portrait
Fatima Peyton
Military and Veterans Services Representative, College of Extended Studies

Fatima Peyton served in the United States Navy for 4 years in the communications field while assigned to the USS Dixon out of Point Loma. Following her military service, she worked at Ashford University as a Military Student Advisor. Fatima completed her bachelor's degree in Marketing from the University of Phoenix followed by her master's degree in Organizational Management and Human Resources. She graduated summa cum laude, was selected for the Golden Key National Honor Society, and continues to serves on the SALUTE Veterans National Honor Society committee. Fatima assists in special events such as Operation College Promise, California Veterans for Women, CAMEO Women Veterans Entrepreneurship, and the San Diego Military Prayer Breakfast.

In March 2014, Fatima joined the SDSU College of Extended Studies (CES) as the Military and Veteran Services Representative where she manages the daily operations of the CES Military and Veteran's Office. In this capacity, she serves as the School Certifying Official to aid active duty service members, veterans, military spouses, and dependents utilizing their VA education benefits with a variety of professional certificate programs to prepare adult learners for success in "Education-to-Career" focused occupations. For more information on CES programs, contact Fatima at (619) 594-3047 or at

Amanda Etter Portrait
Amanda Etter
Academic Advisor, Wounded Warrior Battalion-West

Amanda joined the Barron Veterans Center team in July 2014 as the Academic Advisor for the Wounded Warrior Battalion-West servicing Camp Pendleton, Balboa Naval Hospital, and various smaller remote sites. In this capacity, she provides academic advising and planning to wounded, ill or injured service members and their caregivers and family members seeking high school equivalency, certificate, associate, baccalaureate, graduate, and post-graduate educational objectives. She supports these goals by assisting with customized educational plans, identifying available educational resources, suggesting strategies for student success, and avoiding possible pitfalls.

Amanda served four years as an Aviation Supply Specialist in the United States Marine Corps. In 2009, she completed a bachelor degree in Business Administration and Supply Chain Management and is currently pursing a Masters of Science degree in Adult and Continuing Education through Kansas State University. She is a Marine wife and mother of two.

To meet with Amanda, please contact her at (760) 331-7443 or

Brittany Field Portrait
Brittany Field
Troops to Engineers Program Coordinator

Brittany is the Troops to Engineers program coordinator at SDSU. Her mission is to provide internship opportunities for current and graduate students in the engineering field, support for students in transition from military to civilian/student life, and support with resume and cover letter writing. Her goal is to place all student-veterans that are seeing career assistance into paid internships throughout their schooling and full-time jobs upon graduation. Brittany is a Navy veteran, serving from 2007 until 2011, and graduated with her undergraduate degree in Communications in May 2015. She can be contacted at or (619) 594-5849.

Jason Smith Portrait
Jason Smith
Veterans Employment Specialist

Jason is responsible for ensuring SDSU’s military community’s career focused efforts are supported to prepare them for professional careers after graduation. By coordinating various activities provided by the Joan and Art Barron Veterans Center and SDSU Career Services, he specializes in connecting internships and job opportunities for SDSU’s military student population. He also provides career development activities to build upon the success of the Troops to Engineering, Troops to Teachers, and Troops to GeoSciences programs.

Jason retired from the Navy as an Avionics Technician 1st Class in 2009 after 20 years of service and quickly identified a need for transitional programs aimed at preparing veterans for higher education and professional careers. That same year he graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology, and then went right into a Masters in Higher and Post-Secondary Education (M.Ed.), graduating in 2011. He focused his research on veterans transitioning to universities after their military careers and plans to continue to serve veterans and their families transition into and out of San Diego State University.

Jason can be contacted at and at (619) 594-1681.

Ryan Morris Portrait
Ryan Morris
VetSuccess on Campus Counselor, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Ryan graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and from Fresno State University with a Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling in 2007. While attending Fresno State, he was a member of the Chi Sigma Iota international honor society for professional counselors and completed an internship in Fresno State’s Workability IV program. Ryan started working for the U.S. Department of Veterans in February 2008 as a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor and conducted transition assistance at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego and Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton from 2009 through 2011 for service members medically separating out of the military. For his efforts, he was recognized with the Employee of the Quarter Award within the VA San Diego Regional Office in 2010. Ryan also worked as an IDES Counselor at Naval Medical Center San Diego from 2011-2016 where he provided transitional services to those service members that were medically separating. He was assigned as the VetSuccess on Campus counselor aboard San Diego State University in early 2016 where he assists the campus' military affiliated students with navigating their benefits, options, and opportunities.

Ryan's office on campus is located in the Barron Veterans Center (Student Services West building, room 1661) and he can be reached at or by calling (619) 594-2444.