For the second year in a row, more than 60 children of military families were welcomed onto campus Sunday by the Syracuse Orange football team for Fort Drum Youth Football Day—a session exclusively for youth football players whose family members serve in the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division stationed at Fort Drum.
The day camp, part of the University’s longstanding commitment to veterans and the military-connected, gave the young players a chance to watch a pre-season practice, test their skills with drills run by the SU players and get autographs. The children presented a signed Fort Drum Mountaineers helmet to the Orange, which was accepted on behalf of the team by senior quarterback Eric Dungey and redshirt senior defensive tackle Chris Slayton.
“Syracuse has taken a number of important steps to enhance its offerings and expand academic opportunities for military-connected students and families,” says Vice Chancellor and Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) Executive Director Mike Haynie. “The burden of service on military families is significant. They make extreme sacrifices for our country and face unique stressors as a result. To host these kids, introduce them to our athletes and give them a special, fun experience is the least we can do.”
The children and their families arrived Sunday to watch the tail end of team practice before the youth clinic began. Campers rotated through six stations, including a blocking station with the offensive lineman, a ball-security station with the running backs, and a tackling station with the linebackers. Following the skill instruction, the children and their families heard from Orange senior wide receiver Ben Brickman, who served four years in the Marines before enrolling at Syracuse.
Sunday’s event aligns with and supports Chancellor Kent Syverud’s commitment to make Syracuse University the “best place for veterans.” The objective is supported by a series of strategic initiatives, including the creation of the Office of Veteran and Military Affairs and IVMF. The University is furthering that commitment with construction of the National Veterans Resource Complex, a first-of-its-kind mult
i-use facility dedicated to advancing academic research, programming and community-connected innovation serving the social, economic and wellness concerns of the nation’s veterans and families.
Sunday’s event is one piece of the overall Syracuse Athletics Military Appreciation Program, which includes the “Cuse for the Troops” ticket program where tickets can be purchased to send military members or veterans to the Military Appreciation game on Sept. 22 for free, and the “Military Pass,” which grants active-duty military personnel and veterans two complimentary tickets to a home football game during the 2018 season. Complimentary tickets are available for Syracuse’s Oct. 20 game against North Carolina during Orange Central Weekend and the Nov. 9 game against Louisville.
For some military veterans, the first day of school at a new college or university is as challenging as a deployment to a foreign country. Immersion in a new culture and reintroduction to a demanding academic environment can make the transition from military to higher education difficult. To ease the transition, the Warrior-Scholar Project (WSP) hosted its fourth intensive one-week academic boot camp at Syracuse University July 14-July 21.
The Warrior-Scholar Project coordinates immersive academic preparation courses for enlisted military veterans of any skill level at America’s top universities. The program is designed to help military veterans develop and rediscover the skills and confidence necessary to successfully complete four-year undergraduate degrees. Because veterans are non-traditional students with unique experiences distinguishing them from their college peers, WSP also uses the programs to help prepare participants for the emotional and cultural adaptations required to succeed in a higher education setting.
“The Warrior-Scholar Project enables transitioning enlisted service members to become better prepared academically as they establish themselves at their respective universities and become leaders in the classroom,” says Ron Novack, executive director of Syracuse University’s Office for Veteran and Military Affairs. “We are honored to be a Warrior Scholar partner as we continue on our charge to be the ‘best place for veterans’ and afford these men and women the greatest opportunity to pursue their dreams and succeed academically.”
This year’s class of 14 Warrior Scholars hailed from California, Florida, Rhode Island, North Carolina, New York, Mississippi, New Jersey, Wisconsin and Massachusetts and had served in the Army, Marine Corps, Navy Air Force and Coast Guard. All participants were enlisted service members whose careers spanned anywhere from 3-17 years.
WSP at Syracuse University is a collaborative effort between the Office of Veteran and Military Affairs and the College of Arts and Sciences. With the support of Dean Karin Ruhlandt and Senior Associate Dean Gerry Greenberg, Syracuse University provides faculty for each of the five seminars offered throughout the week. Syracuse faculty who taught during this year’s program include:
Tessa Murphy, assistant professor, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs
Mark Schmeller, associate professor, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs
Craig Champion, professor, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs
Andrew Cohen, professor, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs
Corri Zoli, research assistant professor, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs
“The program at Syracuse University taps into the immense potential of post-9/11 veterans and reduces obstacles to success, addressing veterans’ misperceptions about college and building their confidence through an intense academic reorientation” says Sidney Ellington, executive director of WSP. “Syracuse shares our goal of seeing America’s veterans succeed in and outside the classroom—making them an ideal Warrior Scholar Project partner.”
WSP launched its first program at Yale University in 2012 with nine participants. Since then, WSP has expanded to encompass 17 top schools, including Syracuse University, and is on track to host more than 245 veterans at boot camps across the country in 2018. In addition to Syracuse University, WSP graduates have gone on to enroll at top schools, including Yale University, Harvard University and Georgetown University.
“My participation in Warrior-Scholar Project has profoundly impacted my life,” says Kaedy Puckett, WSP program alumni. “I didn’t know what to expect going into the program, but I left with a sense of confidence I had lost. While my military experience instilled discipline, the value of leadership and the importance of hard work, the academic setting is an entirely new way to challenge yourself. WSP flipped a switch in me that reignited goals I originally wanted to reach and served as a catalyst to get my life back on the path I set out to accomplish.”
“Stepping onto a college campus is intimidating for anyone and can be even more so for active or veteran service members,” says Mike Haynie, vice chancellor and executive director of the Institute for Veterans and Military Families. “The important role the Warrior-Scholar Project plays in engaging these military members with universities around the U.S. is vital to their future career success. We are proud to be a part of that work. It was an honor to host this year’s participants and share our educational experience with them.”
Each WSP boot camp is run by a team of WSP staff and student veterans and taught by university professors and graduate students. An intensive syllabus composed of both classic and modern scholarly works guides participants as they learn how to frame their ideas in an academic context, think critically, and formulate scholarly arguments. Participants not only learn the subject-matter material, but they also learn how to learn.
“Because of their technical training and diverse, cross-cultural experiences, military veterans have much to contribute to higher education, beyond their strengths in discipline, teamwork, and resilience,” says Corri Zoli, chair, Board of Academic Advisors, WSP, and director of research, Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism at Syracuse University. “Yet too often veterans are an uncommon sight at four-year colleges. The presence on Syracuse University’s campus of venerable veterans’ programs, such as the Defense Comptrollership Program and the Military Visual Journalism Program, means our partnership with WSP is a natural fit, and it works exceptionally well. As an instructor, I can attest to how this college-readiness program strives to make veterans part of a wider academic conversation and to become campus leaders.”
WSP funders, including host universities and private donors, cover the entire cost of the program for participants, excluding travel. Student veterans attending Syracuse University boot camp will reside in campus housing and attend lectures in various classrooms.
Katie Piston, a doctoral candidate in the bioengineering program in the College of Engineering and Computer Science, and Robin Evans, a first-year in the College of Law, have been named 2018 Tillman Scholars. The newly named class of 60 U.S. service members, veterans and military spouses across the nation will receive more than $1.3 million in scholarships to pursue higher education degrees from the Pat Tillman Foundation (PTF).
“The 2018 Class of Tillman Scholars is a diverse, innovative group of people dedicated to making an impact in their chosen fields; from nursing practice and water conservation to business administration, public policy and beyond,” says Marie Tillman, board chair and co-founder of PTF. “We are proud to support this newest class of Tillman Scholars, empowering them to make an impact in their own communities and around the world.”
Piston is a Navy spouse and proud granddaughter of a WWII veteran. While earning an undergraduate degree at Purdue, she experimented with the design of “smart” military helmets and spent six years observing orthopedic surgery at the local VA hospital.
Inspired by those who bravely serve, Piston is pursuing a doctoral degree in bioengineering at Syracuse in an effort to advance the treatment of serious diseases, including cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and traumatic brain injury. She is part of a team researching nanocarriers to deliver lifesaving medications to patients with neurodegenerative diseases and infected wounds. In addition to her research, Piston serves as a teaching assistant and research mentor for undergraduate engineering students as well as a personal trainer and fitness and yoga instructor.
“I am so honored to represent Syracuse University and the Tillman Foundation as a Tillman Scholar. My two long-standing career goals are to conduct impactful research that will make a difference in worldwide health, and to educate the next generation of engineers to do the same,” says Piston. “Being a Tillman Scholar is more than just a scholarship, it empowers me through national networking and professional development, to honor Pat Tillman’s legacy and make an impact that improves the lives of not just veterans’ and their families but all citizens.”
Evans grew up an impoverished child in Kansas. The first in her family to serve in the armed forces, she initially enlisted to repay her undergraduate student loans and planned to only serve a few years. Evans went onto serve as a logistician, providing fuel, food, ammunition and maintenance support to soldiers for 22 years, through 14 relocations and multiple deployments and leadership roles. She is set to retire as a lieutenant colonel of the U.S. Army and will begin law school at Syracuse this fall.
Inspired by the adoption of her son from Ethiopia, Evans has become a passionate advocate for both domestic and international adoption reform. Evans plans to use her degree to start a nonprofit that will ensure comprehensive pre-adoption education, post-adoption support and the necessary training for those who serve children and families in order to better understand the adoption and foster care experiences.
“I hope to use my voice and law degree to advocate for families—improving the adoption and foster care experience,” says Evans.
“Both Katie and Robin embody the strength, character, academic excellence and incredible potential for which Tillman scholars are known and we are proud to celebrate them as they receive this prestigious honor,” says Michael Haynie, vice chancellor for strategic initiatives and innovation and executive director of the Institute for Veterans and Military Families. “Being a Tillman partner and supporting their charge to empower active-duty service members, veterans and their spouses while having not one, but two notable scholars within our academic community at Syracuse affirms the hard work of so many as we remain steadfast in being the best place for veterans and their families.”
In 2002, Pat Tillman was a starting safety for the National Football League’s Arizona Cardinals. He put his football career on hold to serve his country and died in April 2004 while serving with the U.S. Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment in Afghanistan. Following his death, family and friends established the Pat Tillman Foundation, which invests in military veterans and their spouses through scholarship and programmatic support, and is dedicated to building a diverse community of leaders committed to service to others.
Founded in 2008, the program supports active-duty service members, veterans and their spouses with academic scholarships, a national network and professional development opportunities, so they are empowered to make an impact at home and around the world. The scholarship program covers direct study-related expenses, including tuition and fees, books and living expenses, for scholars who are pursuing undergraduate, graduate or post-graduate degrees as a full-time student at a public or private, U.S.-based accredited institution. The selection process for the Tillman Scholars program is highly competitive.
Each year, the foundation collaborates with 15 University Partners to identify and select qualified applicants on their campuses for the Tillman Scholar screening process. Now in its second year as a University partner, Syracuse University was selected for its innovative veteran services, strong culture of support for military veterans and spouses and its rigorous academic programs.
To date, PTF has invested more than $16 million in academic support, and named over 580 Tillman Scholars at over 100 academic institutions nationwide.
On Friday, May 11, ROTC cadets officially became the next generation of military leaders at the annual commissioning ceremony at Hendricks Chapel, signaling the end of training and the beginning of the graduating seniors’ military career. The cadets graduated from five schools, including Syracuse University, SUNY Oswego, Le Moyne College, Utica College and Cazenovia College. The 26 graduates became second lieutenants in either the U.S. Army or U.S. Air Force and were given their first salute by a mentor, family member or friend who serves or has previously served in the military.
Following the salute, the new officer presented the mentor with a silver dollar. This tradition is thought to have originated from British troops stationed in the U.S. during the colonial era. A silver dollar is given in exchange for the first salute, representing deeply felt gratitude for the mentorship and lessons given by the non-commissioned officer to the ROTC student, now a newly minted lieutenant.
This ceremony marked one of the first times Syracuse University has had two general officers execute the oath of office to their graduating daughters during the ceremony. Maj. Gen. Michael Fantini, keynote speaker, spoke about the importance of being passionate about your mission, your people and your family. In keeping with his theme, Fantini’s daughter, 2nd Lt. Elizabeth Fanitini, graduated with a degree in psychology and will be an intelligence officer stationed at Goodfellow Air Force Base in Texas. Brig. Gen. John Hussey also commissioned his daughter, 2nd Lt. Erin Hussey, who graduated from SUNY Oswego and will join the Medical Service Corps at the NY Army National Guard in Buffalo. “These extraordinary women are carrying on their families’ legacy and commitment to service,” Chancellor Kent Syverud said.
There was a great show of pride from the families in the audience when Syverud remarked on how the commissioning “brought it home and full circle” for them, the cadets and the university, as one family member said.
“Even when your sons and daughters are in civilian clothes on campus, I always know who they are. It is not just that they carry themselves well. It is also that they are still some of the only students on campus who call me ‘sir,’” Syverud said. “To the parents and families here today—in humility I have to acknowledge this: I don’t know how you did it—I don’t know how you raised a child in today’s world to get up earlier; to work harder; to grin and bear it and do the job; to serve others and our country. But you did do it and I owe you my highest compliment as a parent. … Thank you for raising them. Thank you for sharing them with Syracuse University, and with our country.”
The day before the commissioning, Vice Chancellor Mike Haynie presented commissioning gifts to the ROTC cadets. The gifts serve as a token of appreciation for the students’ dedication to ROTC during their time at Syracuse.
Also during Thursday morning’s event, this year’s class of Dottle Family Scholars were recognized. Named for Paul Dottle, a parent of two recent alumni, and his family, Dottle scholars were chosen through a competitive process that explores the applicant’s academics, citizenship, physical aptitude and potential to serve successfully in the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force. These scholarships allow the ROTC programs to recognize deserving cadets while having additional support to ensure that the University’s ROTC programs continue to train the best military leaders in the country.
Last week, Syracuse University and the Office of Veterans and Military Affairs honored 198 graduating student veterans at its 2018 Student Veteran Commencement at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications on Friday, May 11. The graduates represented 46 different majors from all of the University’s schools and colleges with the master’s of business administration and master’s of public administration programs boasting the largest enrollments.
Vice Chancellor Mike Haynie emphasized how this day is his favorite at Syracuse University because the “life cycle of national service takes center stage” as student veterans graduated in the morning and later Chancellor Syverud and University leadership commissioned the nation’s newest second lieutenants. The commencement ceremony’s keynote speaker, U.S. Army Lt. Colonel Dwayne Murray, an alumnus of the class of 1997, served in several tactical, operational and strategic assignments throughout his military career, with duty assignments in Germany, the Republic of South Korea, Texas and Washington State. Murray has also served on multiple assignments in conjunction with the National Security Agency.Keith Doss, assistant director at the Veterans Resource Center, was the master of ceremonies and provided words of encouragement to the graduating student veterans. “You reached a career milestone through dedication, tenacity, discipline and hard work,” he said. “You make SU a better place. … Help us support the veterans who are following in your footsteps.”
“Syracuse University takes care of its veterans better than any other university in the nation,” Murray stated. Listen to his comments about how he agrees Syracuse University is “the best place for veterans.”
“You decided not to quit. You are bold and tenacious. Keep it up!” he added.
U.S. Army veteran Kierston Whaley was an accounting major graduating from the Whitman School of Management, and the outgoing Student Veterans Organization (SVO) President delivering the student address. “I attest my success to this organization and this school,” Whaley said, talking about her new accounting job at KPMG. “I couldn’t have done this without all SU does for veterans.”
Whaley said the University helped her fit in somewhere again, and her experience as SVO president was one of the most rewarding positions she’s ever had the privilege of holding. “It’s (the SVO) the camaraderie we were missing and the support we needed.”
Murphy ’20, a first-generation environmental engineering major from Massachusetts, is one of just 120 annual recipients of the NOAA Hollings scholarship. Named for Senator Ernest “Fritz” Hollings of South Carolina, the award provides up to $9,500 per year for two years of full-time study for students majoring in fields of study related to NOAA’s mission to understand and conserve climate, weather, oceans, ecosystems and coasts. Designed to increase understanding and stewardship for the oceans and atmosphere, the award includes paid summer internship placements at an NOAA or partner facility, and offers recipients the opportunity to attend and present at conferences, including the Science & Education
“I am excited and honored to be afforded an opportunity to pursue my passions of responsible resource management and water quality so early in my career with NOAA” says Murphy. “I admire the organization’s mission to ‘enrich life through science’ and hope to combine my environmental engineering training with my understanding of military operations and organizational structures to approach the issue of reducing the military’s environmental footprint.”
In addition to being a student in the College of Engineering and Computer Science and a member of Syracuse Army ROTC, Murphy volunteers at Syracuse’s Museum of Science and Technology (MOST) and is involved with Engineers without Borders (EWB) and Global Student Embassy (GSE). She will travel to Guatemala this year as part of a GSE research team working to provide clean drinking water to a community in a remote part of the Central American country.
Borce ’18, a senior health and exercise science major from Honolulu in the School of Education, has been accepted into the prestigious Army-Baylor University doctoral program in physical therapy (DPT).
Ranked in the top 10 of over 200 physical therapy programs in the country by U.S. News & World Report, the Baylor DPT program prepares highly qualified students such as Borce to serve as both active-duty officers and as military physical therapists.
Borce, who will begin the program in fall 2019 while serving as a second lieutenant, will study at the historic Fort Sam Houston, home of military medicine, in San Antonio, Texas. The DPT program is part of the Army Medical Department Center and School, as well as the Health Readiness Center of Excellence. The army will fund Borce’s doctoral study in addition to her salary as a second lieutenant.
“I am thrilled to continue my study and my commitment to our nation’s military as a candidate of the Army-Baylor DPT program” says Borce. “I am inspired by the program’s mission to produce active duty PTs who also strive to be leaders in the worldwide military health system and am honored to serve my country as both a solider and physical therapist.”
An active member of Syracuse Army ROTC, Borce is a member of the Command Team and previously traveled to Mongolia for the Army ROTC’s Cultural Understanding and Language Proficiency Program mission, helping teach the Mongolian military English.
As president of the SVO, Legrand hopes to foster growth in the organization. LeGrand’s vision for the organization includes networking with Syracuse University student veteran alumni, working with the SU Student Veterans of America chapter, recruiting and retaining more student veterans in conjunction with Admissions, and creating more volunteer opportunities and social events.
The current 2016-17 officers will continue to serve until May 1.
The SVO is a resource on the Syracuse University campus for veterans and can be particularly helpful for those who are transitioning from a military career to higher education. The SVO provides a way for student veterans to get involved on campus and gives a sense of camaraderie to student veterans as they transition to academic life. The SVO provides a place where a veteran can connect with people who have already had experience with the challenges they may encounter while transitioning to higher education.
The mission of the SVO is to provide veterans, military connected students, and military family members who attend Syracuse University with resources, support and advocacy needed to succeed in higher education and following graduation.
Syracuse University employee and U.S. Army Veteran, Jim Hopkins, was honored as “Hometown Hero” during Saturday’s SU Mens’s Lacrosse vs. Navy game.
Jim Hopkins,was born in Syracuse, New York and was raised on Tipperary Hill. Jim attended St. Patrick’s Grammar School, Bishop Ludden High School, Onondaga Community College and graduated from Syracuse University with Bachelor of Science Degree in biology in 1992.
After graduating from high school, Jim enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1971. He attended basic training at Fort Dix, New Jersey, served in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as a Senior Quarry Machine Operator, and completed one tour of duty in the Republic of Vietnam.
Jim married his wife Cathy of 33 years on September 29th, 1984, the same day the Syracuse University football team upset #1 ranked Nebraska in the Carrier Dome. Jim and Cathy are the proud parents of two children, both Syracuse University Alums, son Matthew ’09, and daughter Tamara ’12.
Today, Jim works as the IT Director at the David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics. He has been with Syracuse University for 23 years, and he is active in in the Syracuse University Veteran Affinity Group as its Digital and Social Media Specialist.
The Syracuse University Student Veterans Organization (SVO) recently hosted its fourth annual SVO Ball and Awards Banquet celebrating the successes of student veterans. Proceeds from the event were donated to Clear Path for Veterans, a local veterans’ resource and community center.
The SVO welcomed Jeff Cleland as the keynote speaker. Cleland, who is the director of organizational excellence with the Maryland State Highway Administration, holds a B.A. in policy studies from the Maxwell School and is completing the executive M.P.A. at Maxwell in December 2018. Cleland encouraged student veterans to leverage everything Syracuse University has to offer and become brand ambassadors for veterans and excellence.
SVO leadership also recognized several student veterans for their excellence and achievements, both academic and serving the larger community. SVO Treasurer Daniel Lewis, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and a senior studying information management and technology in the School of Information Studies, received the Sergeant Danny Facto Award for Best VA Work Study, given by the Veterans’ Resource Center in memory of the very first VA Work Study participant, U.S. Army Sergeant Danny Facto, who was killed in a motorcycle accident following his appointment. Adam LeGrand, U.S. Air Force veteran and communication and rhetorical studies major in the College of Visual and Performing Arts, was awarded the Best for Vets award for his work as one of the first Disability Services Liaisons in the country, assisting veterans every day, and for his support of the SVO. Daniel Cordial, an Army veteran and the SVO community relations coordinator, was awarded the Community Support Award for his efforts this year, which included a successful care package campaign. Tristan Carson, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and English Education Major in the College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Education, was given the People’s Choice Award for his positive attitude and participation. Marine Corps veteran Katherine Quartaro, the SVO secretary, PAVE team leader and a forensic science and psychology major in the College of Arts and Sciences, was awarded Student Veteran of the Year by the Office of Veteran and Military Affairs. Student veterans who achieved a GPA of 3.5 or higher during the Fall 2017 semester, and those graduating in May 2018 were recognized as well.
“I am proud to have had the chance to lead this organization this year. The annual ball and awards banquet is vital to our community. It’s a chance for us to celebrate our successes throughout the year as well as relax and have a good time with our fellow comrades and supporters,” says Kierston Whaley, SVO president. I’m beyond proud this year’s administration was able to pull off such a successful event. We raised over $1,600 for Clear Path for Veterans and thanks to donations from local businesses, we were able to raise just over $300 for the SVO. I’m excited to see what next year brings for Adam and his team, and will be back to support future generations of SU Student Veterans! Go Orange!”
“It is important and inspiring to support our student veterans in their efforts to pursue their educational dreams,” says Ron Novack, Office of Veterans and Military Affairs executive director. “The success of our student veterans is a win for all—our student veterans, our university and our nation. We are proud of the enduring commitment of our university to make Syracuse University the best place for veterans.”
Annabelle Weiss dropped out of Hunter College in 1943 because she wanted to enlist in the armed services. With her parents’ consent, she joined the U.S. Marines and reported for training at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, in April 1944. There she learned to “march, march, march” and was assigned to inspect airplane engines. Weiss was later assigned to Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina. She served in the transportation unit, where her tasks included chauffeuring the base’s commanding officer. She was discharged in 1946.
Weiss, then 94, shared her story with Edna Susman G’78 as part of the Veterans Testimonial Project, a program of the Half Hollow Hills Community Library in Suffolk County, New York. She’s one of nearly 90 U.S. military veterans Susman has interviewed since 2014. “I’m trying to get the word out so libraries see this as history and outreach,” Susman says. “People are dying, and I want to get their stories to share with younger generations.”
Susman discussed the project during her keynote address March 3 at the Day of FiTs conference (FiTS stands for Filling in the Spaces) at the School of Information Studies (iSchool). The Library and Information Science Student Assembly organized the annual event, which featured topics of interest to LIS graduate students that are outside the regular curriculum. Workshops addressed issues including professional resumes vs. CVs, nature programming for libraries and LGBTQ representation in middle grade and young adult literature.
Susman started the project after realizing the busy library where she had worked for 20 years offered no specific outreach for local veterans. She described how the project works, saying that other library staffs can replicate it easily and inexpensively. She advertises and invites veterans to participate, then records interviews with them and creates a DVD. She uploads the interviews to the library’s YouTube channel, which patrons can access via the library’s website. The library also holds an annual reception for the year’s interviewees, and each veteran receives a DVD.
Some interviews happen after Susman spots someone wearing a hat with military insignia and tells them about the program. Others hear about it and call to learn more. She understands that some veterans will be sharing painful memories. “I tell them if there’s anything they don’t want to talk about or don’t remember, that’s fine,” she says.
“Some say ‘I have nothing to say’ or ‘I didn’t do anything interesting,’” Susman adds. But she disagrees, calling the vets “wonderful people with amazing stories.” The oral histories of veterans of World War II, the Korean and Vietnam wars, the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq and military service during peacetime preserve important memories for families and historians, she says.
Susman interviewed one woman who served in the medical corps in Afghanistan who “didn’t go into details.” A World War II veteran who worked on the atomic bomb “knew top secret stuff.” One Vietnam vet volunteered to become a combat photographer “because he didn’t want to kill anyone.”
After Susman’s program was underway, she learned the Library of Congress had started the Veterans History Project (VHP) in 2000. The national project collects interviews, correspondence and memorabilia from veterans and their families. Susman applied some VHP procedures to her project and sends the Library of Congress copies of the DVDs she produces.
Susman grew up in Syracuse and earned a degree in music from the University of Indiana. She still plays and teaches flute. She credits a neighbor, longtime iSchool professor Marta L. Dosa, with encouraging her to enroll in the School of Information Studies. Pauline Atherton Cochrane, another longtime iSchool professor, also served as a mentor.
“Without them, my life would have been very different,” she says.
After completing her master’s degree, she sought jobs as a music librarian. Cochrane tipped her off to a three-month position at the Library of Congress, “a dream job” in Washington, D.C. Susman spent five years teaching congressional and library staff to search the Library of Congress system.
Online research, then in its infancy, “was all command driven,” she explains. “Nobody knew how to do it. We’d type in ‘search and retrieve.’” She loved working at “the mother of all libraries,” she says. “You really felt like you were making a difference.”
She and her husband moved to Long Island, where she raised their two daughters, both Syracuse University graduates. After several part-time jobs—including three at once—she started working at Half Hollow Hills Community Library. She describes library work as “giving people the information they need.”
The job has changed dramatically since her iSchool days. “People can Google everything,” she says. “Now we help people download material and work with their devices.”
She enjoys interviewing veterans “because I get to know them,” she says. “When they come in the library, they’re family. I’m in awe of these people.”