Utica campus welcomes veterans

November 2014

More than 75 community agencies, educators, employers and service providers filled the Campus Center gymnasium October 8, all with one goal in mind: to help veterans understand the benefits available to them. It was the 8th year for the annual Central New York Veterans Expo and the fourth time it was held on SUNY Poly’s Utica campus.

“Our purpose is to bring all the community providers that serve military and military families under one roof. The military benefits process can be very confusing to navigate,” said Jessica Perusse, Expo coordinator. “This event has grown every year, and we try to modify it to meet the needs of the veterans coming in.”

Veterans Expo 2014The providers in attendance ranged from law firms to food banks, colleges and nursing homes, and even utility companies and housing services. Provost William Durgin said hosting the event on campus is a way for SUNY Poly to support veterans in the community.

“There are lots of opportunities here for our veterans, and this is a wonderful opportunity for us at SUNY Poly to welcome you here and to say thank you for what you’ve done,” Durgin told the crowd.

Ernest Lamont of Rome is a veteran who now helps other veterans and the community through his work at Alcoholics Anonymous, one of the many providers on hand for the expo. Lamont says that many veterans struggle with drug and alcohol abuse, and he hopes that through his own experiences he can work with others to improve their lives.

“I go to all the colleges and high schools and talk about drugs and alcohol,” Lamont said. “Even if they don’t personally use the information we provided, they might pass it on. If we can help just one person, it’s been a great day.”