CUNY school adds to program for returning service personnel

If Uncle Sam wants you, so does the College of Staten Island.

CSI is expecting an influx of military veterans this fall thanks to the new G.I. Bill that goes into effect next month. CSI is adding to its already extensive program of support for these student heroes.

The Core program at the College of Staten Island will offer a special section of the course called “Core for Veterans.” Core 100 is one of the required general education courses that all freshmen attend.

Recently, the program has begun designing special-interest sections to meet the needs of the diverse student population that attends CSI.

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“In recent months, much attention has been paid to the difficulties confronting the returning vets as they transition back to civilian life,” said Donna Scimeca, Core coordinator.

“An awareness of this, and a deep desire to help in some way prompted the Core program to invite students from the veterans group on campus to meet with Core faculty to ask for their input on creating the course and how it might benefit this student population. Their responses were overwhelmingly positive.”

The course is intended as an informal support group for the students. The teacher will be Vito E. Zajda, veterans adviser, certifying officer and deputy registrar.

The CSI Student Veteran Center already has a one-stop-service approach for the 132 veteran students who were registered as of the spring semester.

“We see the students through from admission to graduation,” Zajda said.

“We want to make sure that they’re connected to all the services they are eligible for and the more information we can offer, and the more connected they are with their peers we feel the easier the transition will be,” said Urszula Echols, veterans coordinator.

The center, located in room 219 of building 1C, offers a broad range of academic and social services. Zajda is the go-to guy for assistance with practical matters like admissions, financial aid, military benefits and academic advisement.

Ms. Echols mentors the vets by offering them information and referral for disability services, mental health screenings and treatment, academic assistance or tutoring and a wide range of community resources.

“We provide a safety net for the students who come back with conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD),” Ms. Echols said.

“Some of our veteran students are under a lot of stress and PTSD surfaces under pressure.”

Veterans can connect with each other at the Armed Forces Club, which meets at 2:30 p.m. on Wednesdays when school is in session in room 001 of building 2N.

The Armed Forces Club participates in college club functions and hosts a variety of guest speakers and workshops.

The Student Veteran Center hours are 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday, when school is in session in building 1C, room 219. For information, call Zajda at 718-982-2129 or, or Ms. Echols at 718-982-3108 or

by MAURA GRUNLUND – Staten Island Advance
©2009 SI Advance – ©2009 – All Rights Reserved.
Reprinted on CSI Today with permission.

College of Staten Island Core Program personnel are hoping to help as many veterans as possible.