New dedicated space for veterans moves program forward

Yellow ribbon cutting

Congressman Josh Gottheimer (L) and University President Christopher Capuano (R) cut a symbolic yellow ribbon as Ariel Luna, former director of veterans services; senior John Myles, president of the FDU Student Veterans Association; and Mariano Cappelan, MBA student and alumnus, BA’16 (Metro), look on. The event celebrated the opening of the new veterans resource center on FDU's Metropolitan Campus. (Photos by Dan Landau)


By Kenna Caprio

Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Office of Veterans Services has officially cut the ribbon, a symbolic yellow ribbon, on its spacious new office suite on the first floor of Dickinson Hall.

“This is the space staff and students deserve,” said University President Christopher Capuano. “Veterans are very much part of the life of the University.”

At the Metropolitan Campus ceremony, the “Star Spangled Banner” played, as veterans and other honored guests saluted the American flag. Speakers reaffirmed their shared commitment to supporting veterans, especially as they return and acclimate to civilian life and pursue their education.

Capuano noted the University’s long history of serving veterans, a history that began with the birth of the University in 1942 in the midst of World War II. “Understanding the needs of veterans and taking care of our returning military members and their families has always been an important part of FDU.”

The new suite includes a reception and study area, a break/copy room, a “flex” room and an office for Martha Garcia, MBA’92 (Ruth), director of veteran services for outreach, and Jeffrey Dunn, BA’10, MBA’13 (Flor), director of veterans services for operations. It’s approximately 1,000 square feet.

“In the new resource center, veterans can relax and study, they can team-build and enjoy the camaraderie of other veterans,” said Garcia. “The students are loving the space. They gather, they talk, they study, they share meals together.”

 

More than 100 veterans graduated from FDU last year and the University currently serves 243 veterans.

Event speakers included Garcia, Capuano, Dunn, Congressman Josh Gottheimer (D-5th), Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco, and President of the FDU Student Veterans Association John Myles. A representative of New Jersey Senator Cory Booker also read a statement on his behalf.

“We have a responsibility as a country and as a community when people come home,” said Gottheimer. And to “creating programs and spaces like the one here at FDU.” He also read a passage from his grandfather’s diary, kept during World War II. Booker’s letter praised the University’s “impressive commitment” to veterans. “This is an outstanding day for Fairleigh Dickinson University, the county and student veterans. We need to commend universities that have put resource centers into education because it shows they care,” added Tedesco.

Following their remarks and a flag-folding ceremony, Capuano carried the flag into the new offices, leading members of the FDU community and guests in to tour the space. The flag will be displayed in the office in a “place of reverence,” according to Garcia.

“Thank you to the school for giving us a place to call home,” said Myles, a senior studying business and management.

Flag folding ceremony

Members of the military lead a flag-folding ceremony at the celebration.


FDU has been long recognized for its excellence in serving veterans. In 2009, FDU joined the Yellow Ribbon program, offering an unlimited number of matching grants, for all academic programs, to veterans. Victory Media named the University a “Military Friendly School,” and the institution is among the Best Colleges for Veterans by US News and World Report. In addition, College Factual ranked Fairleigh Dickinson University in the top 20 nationally, and the best in New Jersey, for veterans studying liberal arts and general studies.