The Syracuse University Veterans Affinity Group is hosting an SU Veterans Community Social in partnership with the Office of Veteran and Military Affairs (OVMA) on Tuesday, Feb. 13, from 5-9 p.m. at Orange Crate Brewing Co., 731 S. Crouse Ave. All are invited to attend—not only veterans and military-connected faculty, staff and students at Syracuse University, but anyone with a passion for serving veterans and who enjoys community service projects throughout the academic year.

Three people, including one in a "Real Veterans Wear Orange" T-shirt, pushing a dolly of packages
Care packages for deployed service members being prepared

“The Office of Veteran and Military Affairs is proud to work with the Veterans Affinity Group to bring everyone together,” says U.S. Army Col. (Ret.) Ron Novack, OVMA executive director. “It’s an exceptionally supportive and inclusive group for anyone who is dedicated to serving veterans, whether they have served themselves or not.”

The Syracuse University Veterans Affinity Group’s mission is to create an engaging community and develop cross-campus partnerships in an effort to support the University’s military-connected employees and students. Expanding membership beyond veterans and military-connected people further strengthens the University’s commitment to enhancing everyone’s campus experience and creating a distinct sense of community.

“Rather than focusing on themselves, veterans often seek out opportunities to continue to serve,” says Edward A. Kiewra (lieutenant colonel, U.S. Army, retired), research associate at the Office of Institutional Research and Assessment (OIRA). “The Syracuse University Veterans Affinity Group provides a means for veterans, those who are still serving their country and military-affiliated individuals to meet on a regular basis, enjoy that shared camaraderie typical of military organizations, and engage in projects and activities through which they can continue to serve the University and surrounding community.”

The group was established in 2014 under its first president, Jake VanMarter, credited with creating the program for faculty and staff who are veterans at Syracuse University. The group’s new president, Jennifer Renee Pluta, also serves as Syracuse University’s assistant director of Veteran Career Services at the OVMA. In her new role, Pluta looks to expand the group’s membership and participation. Her main goals are to:

  • engage the veteran community;
  • unite faculty and staff veterans and members of military-connected community;
  • influence veteran-related policies on campus; and
  • inform the Syracuse University and greater Syracuse community.

“Under Jennifer’s leadership, coordination and organizational skills, she has taken the group to a whole new level,” says Philip Benedict, Physical Plant facilities supervisor and U.S. Air Force veteran. “Jennifer is welcoming of all, military and non-military alike. She sees this as one for all, all for one. We are here, we are family, we are ONE!”

“Jennifer has done a great job of bringing veterans together from all categories at the University—in ways they never have before,” added Robert Murrett (vice admiral, U.S. Navy, retired), deputy director of the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism and professor of oractice at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. “It’s a terrific organization.”

For those interested in joining the Veterans Affinity Group, monthly meetings are held on the second Thursday of the month from noon-1 p.m. at various locations across the campus. The next meeting is on Thursday, Feb. 8, at Dineen Hall, room 300L, hosted by  Murrett.

To get updates or join the Veterans Affinity Group, fill out this form for more information or follow the group’s Facebook and Twitter at @SUVetsAffinity.