The Veteran Students Organization (VESO) and the Stony Brook Student Nurses’ Association (SBSNA) hosted the third annual overnight event called Tent City outside Staller Center on November 7 to exemplify the harsh conditions homeless veterans face on a daily basis. This event is one of many that support Stony Brook University’s Military Appreciation Month.
The event aims to bring awareness of and cultivate empathy toward the issue of veteran homelessness. It also strives to build and strengthen connections and a sense of community within the University among traditional students and veteran students. Pamela Pfeil, Coordinator of Veteran Student Services and Stony Brook alumna, emphasized that “transitioning from military life to civilian life is a real difficult transition. Stony Brook University’s Veteran Affairs is dedicated to serving assisting our veterans, service members and their dependents in receiving their education benefits, facilitating their transition to college and providing support for ongoing academic success.”
Christopher Palazzolo, Vice President, Veteran Student Organization was one of the main organizers of the event and invited Dr. Rick Gatteau, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students, and Dr. Jarvis Watson, Interim Chief Diversity Officer, to offer some remarks at the event. They spoke about how the Stony Brook University Office of Veteran Affairs’ goal is to strive to become one of the nation’s top military-friendly schools by offering the student military veteran population a wide range of support services, educating faculty and staff of their needs, and developing community support.
The event also featured student performances by SBU Hoop and Circus Club, The Stony Brook Vocalists, and The Reptiles Band, as well as outdoor games and a card-making station to send words of encouragement and greetings to veterans overseas. Snacks and refreshments were sponsored through generous donations from the Faculty Student Association (FSA), Coca-Cola, Canteen Vending, FedEx and CulinArt. Before the overnight campout, students watched Avengers: Endgame sponsored by Staller Center of The Arts.
Even though it was a cold rainy night, dedicated students camped overnight for this worthy cause. “We all went outside and set up our tents whether it’s rain or shine and just went out there and took in all the elements, so everyone realizes the difficulties homeless vets face,” said Palazzolo.
Four weeks prior to the event, VESO partnered with FSA to host a food drive to collect food for the Services for the Underserved, an organization that provides assistance with housing, employment and wellness services for veterans.
“The Faculty Student Association is proud to support Military Appreciation Month programs and collaborate with Stony Brook students to support the Veteran community and thank them for their service,” stated Van Sullivan, FSA Executive Director.
To find more out about Stony Brook Veterans Affairs and other Military Appreciation Month events, visit stonybrook.edu/vets.