OSWEGO — A grant will help local veterans receive educational assistance and opportunities at two Oswego County colleges.

Cayuga Community College and SUNY Oswego are two of just 11 SUNY campuses to receive the grant funding, which is used for furthering career services, training and educational opportunities for enrolled veterans and their dependents.

Both colleges will utilize a grant from the Ambassador Trustee Carl Spielvogel Fund to continue services for enrolled veterans and their dependents. Spielvogel, who serves on the SUNY Board of Trustees and is a veteran himself, was a former U.S. Ambassador to the Slovak Republic, appointed by President Bill Clinton in 2000.

Projects supported by the funding at SUNY campuses include training programs for manufacturing, mechatronics, hydraulics and pneumatics and other areas of study.

Garry Visconti, president of the Fulton Veterans Council and 2019 Fulton Veteran of the Year, congratulated the schools for their efforts in helping veterans “transition to the civilian world” by advancing education opportunities.

“To me, it’s important that we do as much as we can for our veterans,” said Visconti. “For a long time, we didn’t do a lot. There are a lot of homeless veterans and we need to do more to get them back into society.”

At CCC, the grant will support workshops helping veterans and their dependents who are enrolled at the college build support networks, discuss educational goals and identify on- and off-campus services that will help build stronger pathways to potential careers.

“We are thankful to be one of 11 SUNY campuses receiving a grant, and we are incredibly appreciative of the Ambassador Trustee Carl Spielvogel Fund’s efforts to support programming for veterans and their families,” said CCC President Dr. Brian Durant. “We’re excited to offer these workshops discussing essential career services, and we urge any veteran or family member of a veteran to attend our future sessions.”

The Veterans Services Workshops at CCC are held monthly on the Auburn and Fulton campuses and are open to enrolled veterans, their spouses and their dependents. The sessions focus on support services, including career and educational opportunities, that are on- or off-campus.

While each session is built around a specific topic, they are also essential opportunities for veterans to support each other and their families, said Emily Cameron, Cayuga’s assistant director of Community Education and Workforce Development.

“Veterans and their families are a vital part of our campus community. While these monthly workshops discuss important educational opportunities or the career and training services Cayuga offers, it’s just as important that these sessions provide opportunities for attendees to connect with each other and to help them build a support network,” said Cameron.

The amount awarded to CCC and the total worth of Spielvogel’s grant were not immediately clear.

The SUNY Impact Foundation, an academic support proposal submitted jointly by SUNY Oswego, Jefferson Community College (JCC), SUNY Canton and SUNY Potsdam, received $70,400.

The grant, which will span four semesters, allows for the hiring of a dedicated tutor to work specifically with the student veteran population on each campus. JCC would also provide space at least twice per semester for SUNY Oswego’s veteran and military services coordinator to hold office hours to meet with prospective students and discuss transfer options.

SUNY Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson thanked Spielvogel and all veteran students for their service.

“We are proud to serve our veterans, and with the generosity of Ambassador Spielvogel, a dedicated patriot and staunch advocate for higher education, the (fund) will help our campuses provide academic assistance and support to more people who have protected our country,” said Johnson.

Visconti, whose U.S. Navy service spanned two decades beginning after his graduation from the Fulton City School District in 1976, said it can be challenging to adapt back to a non-military lifestyle.

“It’s a real shock to come back into the civilian world,” said Visconti. “Any help they can get is important.”

The workshops are ongoing, and will continue through the spring. For more information on upcoming workshops, including a schedule, contact Cameron at 315-294-8527 or email her at emily.cameron@cayuga-cc.edu.

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