OSWEGO — Partnering with New York State Industries for the Disabled, Clear Path for Veterans and Oswego Industries, SUNY Oswego celebrated Veterans Day on Friday with the dedication of a new Battle Buddy Center at the Veterans Lounge in Hewitt Union.
Designed as a safe haven for veterans to socialize with each other and receive services unique to their backgrounds in the armed forces, the Battle Buddy Center is NYSID’s 12th in the state. The agency presented the school with a $10,000 check to help create the center with dozens of student veterans, staff, faculty and community leaders showing support and enjoying lunch at the center.
SUNY Oswego, declared a “military friendly school” by multiple agencies over the last several years, enrolls 150 veterans and hundreds of spouses and military beneficiaries, according to Acting Provost Walter Roettger, who served at NORAD headquarters in the Air Force and in the reserves.
“Thank you for NYSID’s generous donation, it allows us to better serve our veterans,” said Roettger, who also honored the Hewitt family for “paying it forward,” noting Hazel Hewitt, who taught kindergarten at Sheldon Hall, left a bequest to SUNY Oswego, and Jesse Hewitt, who was the “first SUNY Oswego student to lose his life in World War I.”
Paul Quirini of NYSID noted the school had a “strong student veteran presence,” saying the center was a way for veteran students, administrators and support groups to say to one another, “’I’ve got your six, I’ve got your back.’”
“This supports veterans on campuses, acknowledging their service and gives them a place to receive services,” said Quirini in an interview, adding that it was fitting Veterans Day has received more publicity and given more recognition to military members and their families in recent years.
Oswego Industries is partnering with the center to help local veterans with disabilities gain successful employment through the group’s career employment services program.
In a statement, SUNY Oswego President Deborah Stanley said the school remains dedicated to providing “outstanding educational services that reflect the unique needs of our veteran students.”
“The NYSID Battle Buddy Center will enhance our ability to server our veteran students as they transition from active duty into and through higher education,” she said. “Creating a safe space that promotes a strong sense of community and supports academic and personal success for our veterans is a project we are proud to support.”
Benjamin Parker, the school’s Veteran and Military Services Coordinator, held a moment of silence and thanked “our students, faculty and staff who are serving” in the armed forces.