A Home for Veterans at Manhattan College

by Kelly Cwik, Asst. A&E Editor

Military Times recognized Manhattan College in their “Best for Vets” list for 2021. Along with this honor, the program earned a gold medal status from Military Friendly and the Student Veterans Organization received the Irving Ladimer Community Service award, presented by the local Bronx Community Board 8 (CB8).

Director of Veterans Success Programs, Tiana Sloan, who oversees the Veterans Center and all programming for the veterans, was ecstatic when they were recognized.

“The way I see them change when they graduate, it means so much to me,” Sloan said. “So to be recognized at the national level, is just like, oh my gosh, like this is amazing.”

Shou Oikawa, U.S. Marine veteran, electrical engineering graduate student, and secretary for the Student Veterans Organization, believes these recognitions will make veterans more aware of the programming offered at Manhattan College.

Military Times recognized Manhattan College in their “Best for Vets” list for 2021. MILITARY TIMES / COURTESY

“The truth is, outside of famous colleges and universities, most service members will just pick up the magazine and start looking at their home state and browse through all the listed colleges in the Military Times,” Oikawa wrote in an email to The Quadrangle. “By just being listed there will allow for them to reach out to Manhattan College, and I am sure they will be intrigued with our program once they speak to Tiana Sloan, the Veteran Success Program coordinator.”

Manhattan College has the Veterans Success Program and the Veterans at Ease Program. The Veterans Success Program assists veterans with the transition from military life to civilian life by being supported both professionally and academically. The Veterans at Ease Program helps veterans facilitate ways to manage and reduce stress through meditations and yoga. The program usually takes the incoming student veterans to the Bahamas, but this year they are going on a retreat to the Catskills. Another resource is the Student Veterans Organization at MC which is a chapter of the national organization, Student Veterans of America. Being a part of this organization provides peer support, social activities, and a way to stay connected.

Christopher Norberto, U.S. Navy veteran, sociology major, and treasurer of the officers, described how being a part of the programs has helped him adjust better from military life.

“I had a hard time when I first got out and school actually got me back on the path to do what I want to do and just feel productive again,” Norberto said. “And I think it helps, just in general, having a place, you know, with like-minded people.”

Sloan emphasized the importance of having a community for veterans to meet and connect especially on a college campus.

“I think providing community is something that we’ve learned that it’s really the most important thing that we do,” Sloan said. “It’s being able to al- low them to connect with each other is so important and that’s why even having the Veteran Center on campus is so important because, you know, for the most part, they don’t know each other, walking onto campus and then they’re able to walk into that center, connect, they’re able to attend the events together and connect.”

Norber described the disconnect between general students and veteran students and how he hopes to do things to bring general students and veteran students together.

Some advice from Oikawa to general students is to reach out to student veterans and get to know them.

“If you notice that there is a classmate that is a bit older in your class, there is a good chance that he/she is a veteran,” Oikawa wrote. “If you have an opportunity, strike up a conversation and you’ll find out we may have unique experiences, but also at the same time not that much more different than you. I promise we won’t bite.” To get more involved with the Veterans Programs at Manhattan College, they are planning a couple of events to attend such as a 9/11 Memorial and a 22 pushup challenge in September to raise awareness for veterans suicides. A new club is also starting this fall, called Jaspers 4 Veterans. More information is to come, and those who are interested should email jaspers4veterans@manhattan.edu.