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A weekend of tribute ends with final honor

Veteran Services Office discusses easing student veterans into civilian life

Jonathan Heisler/Photo Editor Members of Binghamton University’s ROTC lower and then fold the American flag in honor of Veterans Day as veterans, students and BU President Harvey Stenger watch.

Five uniformed members of Binghamton University’s ROTC lowered the American flag outside the Couper Administration Building on Monday in the symbolic close to a weekend of Veterans Day tributes held by the University.

At an open discussion held two hours earlier in the Mandela Room, however, veterans from the Greater Binghamton Area — representing conflicts spanning from World War II to Iraq — passionately told the office of Veterans Services that the veterans must be recognized on campus more than once per year.

“It’d be nice to have events on campus more than just one weekend,” said George Catalano, a former combat engineer and BU professor of bioengineering. “Maybe monthly, maybe.”

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Jonathan Heisler/Photo Editor

Catalano was one of several staff and faculty member veterans who attended the discussion, which was led by Victor Yang, a veterans project liaison for AmeriCorps VISTA who works in the Veterans Services Office.

Five wheelchaired veterans from Willow Point Nursing Home in Vestal and graduate student John Burchill also participated.

The meeting touched on the positive aspects that veterans bring to a college campus and several attendees suggested veterans ought to receive class credit for the skills they learned in the service.

“There’s no reason a medic trained for combat should come to school and have to take Nursing 101,” an attendee from the Decker School of Nursing said.

Although BU was recognized as a “military friendly” campus by G.I. Jobs Magazine, Yang said the University can still offer more support.

There are roughly 70 veterans enrolled at BU that the Veterans Services Office knows of, but the office is working to identify more.

“Just being able to put our name out there as being an institution that really supports our veterans, because sometimes it’s just they don’t know that we’re out there,” Yang said.

He is working to create a student group for veterans to discuss their shared experiences by the end of the fall 2014 semester.

Among the veterans from Willow Point was Stewart Goldman, a Brooklyn native who left the Army as a Master Sergeant in 1970, was a Green Beret and served for five years and seven tours in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. He said the discussion Monday “started something positive for the Veterans Center.”

The Veterans Services Office is important, he said, because they offer support to soldiers transitioning from their time in the service to civilian life — something Goldman struggled with. He remembered being spit on and called a “baby killer” in San Francisco after coming home from Vietnam, and said he struggled to find a job afterward.

“Glad these kids have a place to connect with veterans who understand their problems, their experiences,” Goldman said.