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Services for Student Veterans at SUNY Continue to Grow

Male and female ROTC students at Brockport do homework together at a table.

SUNY is committed to supporting and aiding the success of all students – including student veterans. Support from campus veteran service offices helps our veterans use their skills and experiences to achieve new success in higher education.

Most recently, SUNY Cobleskill was awarded a $10,000 grant to enhance the school’s existing Student Veteran Resource Center. The grant comes from the VetCenter Initiative grant program, a partnership between the Student Veterans of America and the Home Depot Foundation that offers grants ranging from $5,000 to $10,000 to renovate or build a veteran resource center on campus. After completing a competitive application process against thousands of qualified candidates, the Student Veteran’s Association (SVA) at SUNY Cobleskill was selected to receive the maximum amount rewarded.

Formed in 2011, the SUNY Cobleskill SVA is a nonprofit organization established to increase access to SUNY Cobleskill for student veterans. It provides a range of student services, programs, and community support to assist student veterans with their transition and ensure their academic and personal success within the college community. With the $10,000 grant, the organization will upgrade parts of the center’s structure, furnishings, and decorations. It also aims to allocate some of the funds to establish additional resources for students.

Matthew LaLonde, Director of Judicial and Veteran Affairs at SUNY Cobleskill, said, “I am very proud of our SUNY Cobleskill Student Veteran Association; it is amazing how far we have come in such a short period of time. They SVA worked hard to help create a competitive grant application, and it is impressive that we are just one of two SUNY schools to be awarded the grant.”

In this video, SUNY Cobleskill SVA members speak about the significance of their resource center and receiving additional funds from the VetCenter Initiative grant program:

The Oneonta Daily Star covered the award in an article titled On the Bright Side: SUNY Cobleskill earns grant for veterans center.

However, SUNY Cobleskill is not the only SUNY school that offers support to student veterans. SUNY Delhi was also a recipient of a Vet Center Initiative grant like Cobleskill. Below are a few more examples of the many veteran support initiatives throughout the SUNY system being brought to students.

  • Oswego students present a check to Clear Path for Veterans at an Oswego hockey game.In February, SUNY Oswego‘s Student Association presented a $7,119 check to Clear Path for Veterans, an organization that provides supportive programs to service members, veterans, and their families. The $7,119 came from fundraising events held among the SUNY Oswego student body, including a bingo fundraiser and a Miss-a-Meal event, where students donated a meal included in their meal plans and Dining Services collected proceeds to add to the donation. From left are Ben Parker, SUNY Oswego Veteran Services Coordinator; Melissa Spicer, Clear Path for Veterans co-founder; Ben Nordmark, SUNY Oswego Veterans’ Club vice president; Emily Nassir, SUNY Oswego Student Association Miss-a-Meal fundraising coordinator; Terry Finley, Clear Path for Veterans national outreach director with Eden Tyler Finley; and Alyssa Amyotte, SUNY Oswego service learning and community service coordinator. (Contributed by Ben Parker, Oswego Veteran Services Coordinator)
  • On August 25thJefferson Community College (JCC) is offering a special Veterans-Only Orientation Day to share information specific to veterans in supporting their transition from military life to student life.  The day will begin with guest speaker Congresswoman Elise Stefanik and continue with other speakers, including the Director of the New York State Division of Veterans Affairs (NYS VA) Eric Hesse as well as a team of NYS VA experts from Albany. The speakers will share information about NYS VA benefits and answer students’ questions, JCC offices will provide briefs on the assistance available at JCC, and local organizations will come in to discuss what services they offer for veterans. (Contributed by Robert Harding,  JCC Education Coordinator, Veteran Services)
  • Starting Fall 2015, Binghamton University will be conducting its first course specially designed for veteran students entering college. The course will focus on developing academic skills, transitioning successfully from the military to a higher education environment, and working to identify potential career goals. The course will be team-taught by Assistant Director of Transfer and Veteran Services Zachary DuBord and Dr. George Catalano and other Vietnam-veteran faculty members. In addition, Binghamton University is currently repurposing campus space to provide a Veterans Lounge, which will provide a comfortable and accessible space for all veterans on campus to congregate, study, and relax. (Contributed by Zachary DuBord, Assistant Director, Transfer and Veteran Services)
  • On September 10, SUNY New Paltz‘s Institute for Disaster Mental Health will be hosting a one-day Star Behavioral Health Providers training workshop. Seats are open to college counseling centers and mental health clinicians, among other veteran and military advocates. Star Behavioral Health Providers is a training program that will help organizations and advocates better understand and serve veterans, service members, and their families. After completion of this training, licensed clinicians will be able to join an online registry of providers to better reach veterans. For information or to register, visit www.starproviders.org.
  • An incoming Empire State College student was lucky enough to attend Harvard in June for a program that helped veterans develop study skills and understand how to approach college learning. Army veteran Robert Russell, who will start his first courses at ESC in the fall at the college’s Fort Drum location, attended the Warrior-Scholar Project at Harvard last month. Russell, who is transitioning out of the Army through a medical retirement after seven years of service, will be staying in the local Fort Drum/Watertown area during his studies at ESC. The boot camp atmosphere and long days at the Warrior-Scholar Project were a benefit to Russel, as they are designed to help military service members transition from applying the discipline they have learned in the military to the new activity of being a student.
  • A daylong career conference was held at Suffolk County Community College this past April as a way to help and teach veterans how to convert the skills learned in the military to the workforce and how to navigate the job market. With a number of veteran speakers, industry and government representatives, and human resource professionals in attendance, the event was a great success. A second annual conference is being planned for April of 2016.

To learn more about veteran student services throughout New York and SUNY, visit the Military and Veteran Students section at suny.edu.

    Serah Shahar

    Written by Serah Shahar

    Serah was a social media intern in the SUNY Office of New Media, having graduated from the University at Albany with Business Administration degree with concentrations in marketing and finance and minors in economics and communications.

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