'Battle Buddy' Centers Help Vets Ease Into College Life

'Battle Buddy' Centers Help Vets Ease Into College Life

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Retired Marine Corps Sgt. Thomas Sanford says joining SUNY Canton's campus as a student was stressful, but he quickly transitioned into his new life with help from the campus' veterans lounge.

"Of course it's always a little bit of a shock, having a military lounge here, a veterans lounge," he said. "This was already established by the time I got here and from day one this is where I was hanging out."

SUNY Canton is expanding its veterans services and will have what's called a Battle Buddy Center.

"It's important for student veterans to kind of have a place to call their own, also be part of the fabric of the community," said Paul Quirini of the New York State Industries for the Disabled, which is helping fund the center.

The Battle Buddy Center at Canton will make it the 11th in the state.

It's a place for student veterans to go for services or to hang out with other veterans.

SUNY Canton President Zvi Szafran says the college is looking forward to making the Battle Buddy Center part of the college's veterans services.

"When soldiers leave the military, that we provide a pathway so they can get the education they need and be able to get into great jobs," Szafran said.

"Every once and a while, it's nice to separate the military and the veterans from the general population to give them their breather space," Sanford said, "and that's what this veterans lounge really does for us."

The school plans to use a $10,000 check from Industries for the Disabled to expand the new center.

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