Student Veterans Organization Prepares for Veterans Day
Less than a month after formation, the Student Veterans Organization, dedicated to assisting war veterans coming to Niagara as students, has more than 40 members.
Kevin Macaulay, the club’s president said, “When a guy gets out of the service, the military experience is so all-encompassing, he needs something to replace that with … this club we can provide camaraderie among student veterans … you’re not just a number here, you’re actually a face and you’re part of the college experience.”
The project, headed by Bob Swanson, Macaulay and vice president Andrew Rodems, was approved by NUSGA in early October.
“I always felt strongly that Niagara is a military friendly school but there were still more things and things that we could do better in terms of supporting students who were in the military,” Swanson said of starting the organization.
Within a week of being approved of as a student club, the Student Veterans Organization applied to and was accepted by the National Student Veterans of America. One of the first clubs to do so in Western New York, several other colleges are now applying to the same national organization and networks between schools are growing.
The Student Veterans Organization is also following Niagara’s tradition of community service activity. Rodems, a junior and an Iraq War veteran, started a clothing drive for homeless veterans through the Buffalo St. Vincent de Paul chapter with the help of the Collegiate Entrepreneur Organization, which the Student Veterans Organization has taken control of.
The clothing drive started in October and will go until the end of the year. Collection boxes are in Gally.
In reference to the homeless veterans in Niagara Falls, Ma caulay said, “These people really have nothing; they’re sleeping outside or they’re sleeping in shelters and we’re trying to provide to them … the necessities they need to survive.”
Macaulay also said the group is having a combined ROTC/Student Veterans Organization Veteran’s Day memorial on Thursday. They will sell American flag pins prior to the event for students to wear. At 9 a.m. on Thursday, there will be a flag-raising ceremony, followed by refreshments.
The event will be an opportunity “to take a moment to remember all the people who have worn a uniform to help make this country what it is” said Swanson.
The proceeds from the pins will go partially to fund the organization, which won’t get funding from the university until next September. “In addition to that, we’re going to take some of the money we make and put it into the scholarship fund” said Macaulay, Swanson added that the scholarship will be “for student veterans who don’t have G.I. bill benefits.”
Although Macaulay assures that “we are working hand-in-hand on a number of projects” with the ROTC program, Swanson made the distinction that the ROTC program is strictly army-based, while there are members of the Student Veteran’s Organization from all five branches of the military.
Swanson works in the Career Services Office at NU and was an officer in the Army before being assigned to assistant professor of military science with the ROTC program 20 years ago.
Macaulay served in Vietnam with the Marine Corps in 1967 and ’68. His wife and three of their nine children graduated from Niagara and he is now working toward a degree as well.