By Bill Parry
LaGuardia Community College has received a $20,000 grant from the New York State Industries for the Disabled, Inc. to establish a Battle Buddy Center for student veterans. The new center will replace and expand the Veterans Services Center that has been at the Long Island City college since shortly after it opened in 1971.
The Battle Buddy Center will be a one-stop comprehensive service and recreation facility for veterans transitioning from military service to student life, according to school officials. Resources will include registration guidance, benefits assistance, career advising, peer mentoring, computer resources, and opportunities to meet other veterans enrolled at the college.
“We are committed to providing our veterans with the support they need to have a smooth path towards college and earning a degree,” LaGuardia Community College President Gail Mellow said. “Since we opened our doors over 40 years ago, LaGuardia Community College has provided veterans with education, training and services they need as they transition.”
There are currently more than 350 veterans enrolled at the college. Each served an average of six years in the military.
LaGuardia student Rick Malone, a U.S. Coast Guard veteran and vice president of the Student Veterans Club, spoke of the importance of having a dedicated facility for veterans during the presentation of the grant last week.
“We know firsthand how difficult things can seem shortly after leaving the highly disciplined world of the military,” he said. “And we hope this new center will help make the transition to civilian life as easy as possible.”
The Battle Buddy Center is NYSID’s 10th facility created since 2011 in colleges around the state, but it is its first one in Queens. “Battle Buddy” is a military concept that partners soldiers to assist each other both in and out of combat and it offers activities to encourage camaraderie and foster veterans to give and receive mutual support.
“NYSID supports LaGuardia Community College and its veterans services office in assisting veterans to achieve success personally, academically and professionally,” NYSID President and CEO Ron Romano said. “NYSID supports job creation efforts for a diverse group of New Yorkers with disabilities through our member agencies and assists with veteran’s support programs, promoting quality of life for veterans as they reconnect to the New York state workforce.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr