Many of us know Memorial Day as one of those national holidays where we get a three-day weekend, have barbeques, and wave flags at parades. However, many Americans understand it as much more than that—a day to remember fallen soldiers and to acknowledge veterans still among us, a day that calls both for solemn reflection and for patriotic celebration.
Memorial Day has been celebrated since the end of the Civil War, the war resulting in the highest loss of American life. It was originally called “Decoration Day,” referring to the practice of leaving flags and flowers on the graves of soldiers. This practice continues today, along with the traditions of Memorial Day parades and moments of silence to commemorate the dead.
Veterans should not only be thanked and honored for their contributions in the army, but should also be given opportunities for further achievement off the battlefield. For this reason, many SUNY schools strive to provide veterans with tools for success.
Veterans often experience obstacles in the educational process that traditional students usually do not, such as full-time jobs, family responsibilities, or difficulties associated with disabilities. Despite these obstacles, the Military Times finds that veterans who attend schools on their Best for Vets: Colleges 2016 list tend to be in line with nonveteran students in terms of graduation and retention rates. The Military Times listed several SUNY schools—namely, SUNY Plattsburgh, SUNY Oswego, SUNY Cobleskill, Monroe Community College, and SUNY Empire State College—in their rankings.
In particular, SUNY Cobleskill offers several financial benefits to veterans such as fee waivers and no-penalty deployment withdrawals. Veterans also have access to services and resources such as the Student Veterans Association, the Veteran Affairs office, and health care and counseling. In addition, SUNY Cobleskill accepts military transcripts, which transfer into credits.
Meanwhile, SUNY Potsdam and SUNY Canton share a Veteran Affairs Coordinator, U.S. Marine reservist Patrick Massaro, who helps veteran students access the benefits available to them and educates faculty and staff about how to best assist student veterans. At Potsdam, veterans can take advantages of resources such as a Veterans Honor Society, fee waivers, and assistance in accessing financial benefits from the GI Bill.
GI Bill benefits can be tricky to navigate. Therefore, SUNY provides a guide for what kinds of education benefits are available to veterans and how to compare them to find out which is best for you. Veterans and those in the military who are considering continuing their education can visit SUNY’s Military and Veteran Students page for information about how to go about this process.
Thank you to those who have served our country, and best of luck to any veterans considering a return to school!
Jenna was a student assistant with the SUNY Office of New Media when an undergraduate student at SUNY Geneseo studying English literature.