Schumer Announces Veterans Property Tax Benefits at News Conference

Charles Schumer, left, is joined by Ann Treadaway and Michael Cusick at the press conference.

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced a two-pronged plan at the College of Staten Island to help ensure that veterans returning home to Staten Island from Iraq and Afghanistan are receiving critical benefits that will allow them to afford a home and live stable civilian lives.

Schumer highlighted data that shows that more than one in three veterans on Staten Island have not applied for the property tax benefit for veterans that is available to them and worth hundreds of dollars a year, and a disconnect in communication between the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and localities that administer federal and state benefits are to blame.

The College of Staten Island currently serves approximately 260 student veterans and student dependents of veterans. This veteran population has almost doubled since 2007.

“The increase in the number of veterans returning to the Island and to the College requires that we – just like Senator Schumer – continually think about the best ways to serve our veterans and veteran students,” commented CSI’s Interim President Dr. William J. Fritz. “I am proud of the fact that the College’s Veteran Support Services have been recognized as second to none.”

CSI, which has been named a “Top Military Friendly School” by G.I. Jobs magazine for four years in row due to excellence in service to students with military experience, offers a wide array of services specifically designed for current, new, and future veteran students through its Veteran’s Center under the direction of Ann Treadway, the Coordinator for Veterans Support Services at the College of Staten Island.

“I am not currently a home owner, however, I was just recently married and am beginning to look,” commented Treadaway. Although I was born and raised in New York I had considered [purchasing a home in] New Jersey until I saw the difference between the veterans property tax benefits that exist in each state.  This benefit will keep me here in New York.”

During his press conference, Schumer first called on the VA to do a better job to ensure that veterans and their returning localities are coordinated and therefore able to get vets the benefits they deserve. Specifically, Schumer said that the VA Home Loan division should incorporate New York’s universal property tax exemption form in the materials provided to veterans as they are discharged, to raise awareness of this property tax benefit. Not every state provides property tax benefits to their veterans, but in those that do, Schumer said that the VA should make veterans aware. Schumer also called on the VA to compile and provide a bi-annual list of veterans to New York City’s Department of Finance and the NYC Mayor’s Office of Veterans Affairs as they return home. This will allow localities that distribute vets’ benefits to form a more accurate list of veterans in their region, and to reach out directly when new benefits and services are available to them. Schumer noted that while this may not encompass every veteran who returns home, it will help start to develop a more comprehensive and reliable list of veteran constituents. Second, Schumer asked the Internet Association (IA), a Washington-based lobbying group that represents Google, Amazon.com, eBay, Facebook, Expedia, LinkedIn, Monster Worldwide, Yahoo! Zynga, and other Internet companies,  to work with local veterans groups to reach younger veterans and boost awareness of benefits in new ways, like advertising campaigns.

“More than one in three of our veterans on Staten Island return home from the battlefield unaware of life-changing benefits to help them buy homes and live stable civilian lives,” said Schumer. “I am launching a two-pronged plan to end the disconnect between the federal government that discharges veterans and the localities that distribute property tax credits to them, along with other deserved benefits. First, I am urging the VA to include the universal application for New York’s property tax exemption to all veterans who are discharged and considering homeownership. Second, I am asking the powerful Internet company trade association, with members like Facebook, Google, and others, to find new ways to reach our younger veterans and spread awareness of federal and state veterans’ benefits to those who are just now getting out of the service.”

“Whether it is an existing homeowner that has missed out on hundreds of dollars in veterans’ benefits for years, or a younger veteran that wouldn’t otherwise consider purchasing a home, I want them to know about this benefit so that they’ll jump into the market, put down roots, and give the local economy a boost,” Schumer continued.

Schumer explained the existing property tax exemption in New York. Municipalities are able to provide veterans with the eligibility to receive this exemption from the required property tax rate, and the amount of the exemption varies based on whether the veteran served in peace time or in combat and whether the veteran has a service-connected disability.

Schumer emphasized that veterans who served at the time of the Persian Gulf conflict (including Iraq and Afghanistan vets), the Vietnam War, the Korean War, or World War II can receive a 15-percent reduction in assessed value. Additionally, veterans who served in combat zones are entitled to an additional ten-percent reduction, and veterans with a service-connected disability can receive an additional reduction equal to one-half of their service-connected disability.

Schumer was joined by Treadaway and local veterans.

Schumer stated that in order to capture and reach additional veterans, he wants the IA, with the power of Facebook and Google, to assist. Schumer encouraged the IA and its member companies to collaborate with the State of New York’s governmental and non-profit veterans groups to help spread awareness of the federal and state veterans’ benefits available to our young soldiers returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan that will allow them to afford a home.

Schumer appealed directly to the IA, with which he has a strong relationship,  because it represents the interests of the nation’s leading Internet companies and their global community of users, and he believes that this is one of the best ways to reach young veterans, rather than older methods through VFW halls and other channels. Schumer believes that wider circulation of veterans’ benefits should be a top priority for large Internet companies in order to help welcome our youngest veterans home and make them aware of their ability to save on housing purposes. Schumer noted his concern that veterans in New York are unaware of these special opportunities and believes that the organization can remedy this information deficit.

Currently there are more than 21,000 veterans on Staten Island. Based on data from the City of New York, only about 13,000 veterans have applied to receive the exemption. The exemption provides significant savings to current veteran homeowners.

To be eligible, an applicant must be a qualified veteran or the spouse of a qualified veteran. To apply, veterans needs to complete a simple two-page application and submit it to their local municipality’s Assessor office, along with a copy of their DD-214 to affirm that they were honorably discharged. If the veterans are also applying for the extra disability benefit portion of the exemption, they must also submit copies of U.S. Veterans Administration documents to affirm their service-connected disability rating. Veterans only have to apply once and will continue to receive the exemption in subsequent years. Veterans are only required to re-file if they move or their service-connected disability rating changes. An Application for Veterans Exemption from Real Property Taxation must be filed with the local assessor. Veterans should check with local with their local assessor when applications must be submitted in order to meet local deadlines.

 

College Community Marks 11th Anniversary of September 11

Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs Salvador Mena delivers his remarks at this year's 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony.

Students, faculty, and staff at the College of Staten Island gathered at the 9/11 Memorial on campus last week to remember those who lost their lives in the tragic attacks on our country that took place 11 years ago. 

The event opened with welcoming remarks from CSI Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs, Salvador Mena, as well as from the College’s Interim President Dr. William J. Fritz. 

Dr. Fritz reminded those in attendance that “Our community was singularly impacted. Staten Island lost more residents than any other borough and the College of Staten Island lost more of its family than any other institution in higher education.” 

Later in his comments, Dr. Fritz stated, “I am reminded of a poet who so eloquently observed that when we look into our sorrowful hearts, in truth we are weeping for which has been our delight. Today, as we have done in past ceremonies, the names of all 27 alumni will be read aloud. As each name is called, I ask you to take a moment to quietly reflect upon all that has been our delight—the goodness, character, spirit, and compassion of each individual who graced our institution and our lives.” 

The program continued with a guitar performance of “El Canto Lladre” by CSI student Stephen Flannery and a reading of the poem “To the Woman, Not Trying to Fly, Who Fell with Her Legs Closed, Arms Pressed against the Front of Her Body, While Primly Clutching Her Purse” by Assistant Professor of English Patricia Smith. 

Next, CSI Psychology major and veteran of the United States Marine Corps. Ralph Herrera honored the many volunteers and military personnel who answered the call to provide assistance and response to the attacks. 

In recognition of the students and alumni who died on 9/11, Francisco Collado ’09, member of the CSI Alumni Board of Directors, read their names, and Amy Posner, Executive Director of Hillel at CSI, provided a closing prayer. 

To conclude the event, attendees placed flowers near the 9/11 Memorial in memory of the victims.

Counselors are available to speak with members of the College community in the Counseling Center in Building 1A, Room 109. The Center is open from 9:00am to 5:00pm, Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and from 9:00am to 7:30pm on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

[gallery] Graduating Vets Honored

CSI hosts reception for Veteran graduates of the Class of 2012.

The College of Staten Island (CSI) Student Veteran Center recently held its first-ever Veterans Commencement Luncheon in honor of all graduating CSI students who have served in the military.

View the CSI Today Photo Gallery.

Going from the military to student life can be a difficult transition for many returning veterans, but CSI’s Student Veteran Center aims to make the transition a little less jarring by offering expert guidance as soon as they enter the college community.

CSI’s dedication to service has repeatedly earned the college a place on the G.I. Jobs list of “Military Friendly Schools,” which honors the top 20 percent of military-friendly colleges, universities, and trade schools in the nation.

“Within one hour at CSI, Vito Zajda (Certifying Official, Registrar’s Office) took care of everything,” said Ann Little, a CSI student graduating with an MA in History and former soldier in the Army, this summer.  “It is this level of support for its veterans that sets CSI apart as a veteran friendly college and the addition of the Veterans Commencement Luncheon is one more step on the long road of helping our veterans re-enlist into civilian life.”

Salvador Mena, Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs welcomed those in attendance and shared, “please know that many others who could not be with us today are here in spirit honoring your service and celebrating your educational achievements.”  That sentiment was shared by all in attendance.  Military or civilian, those present at the luncheon exhibited a sort of fraternal pride in its graduating class.  It was obvious to all that this was a landmark event at CSI.

CSI President Dr. Tomás D. Morales nearly said as much during his opening remarks by congratulating the veterans for “this extraordinary milestone.”  He then acknowledged the veterans who worked at the Veterans Center for their “hard work and devotion to their brothers and sisters.”

“CSI offers a very unique level of service,” said Ann Little, who has worked as a college assistant helping her fellow veterans to fully integrate into student life.  In fact, the Student Veteran Center keeps up with its student vets throughout their college careers, aiding them every step of the way.  It is a level of service that has even changed the career paths of one of the center’s first assistants.  “After graduating I want to continue to help veterans in transitioning to civilian life,” said Little.

The veteran’s program at CSI began in 2007 when there were approximately 130 student vets enrolled at CSI—the number has since doubled.  The newly formed office dedicated itself to providing a one-stop service where student vets were offered advice on everything from registering to filling out the proper paperwork to simply, but importantly helping them adjust to student life.  “Having veterans work in the office was a huge boost to understanding how difficult a transition it is,” said Urszula Echols, Veterans Coordinator at CSI.

According to Echols, veteran students have more life experience than most other students– even than some of their instructors.  It is that life experience that can make or break a veteran student.  “The vets not only deal with school,” said Echols.  “Many of them have families and jobs they need to keep up with as well.”  It is this experience that makes veteran students “dependable, serious, and proud students.”

The best validation for any faculty or staff member is experiencing the success of their students and the pride in the room during the luncheon was palpable as the students who had achieved an especially high level of success received awards.  David Colon, a retired member of the Coast Guard, was invited as the guest student speaker and he spoke about the opportunities graduating from CSI will afford him.  “CSI has really helped understand my life-long goals,” said Colon during his speech.  The future MBA student also discussed what makes CSI so successful at accommodating its veteran students.  “It was essential that vets were helping other vets,” he explained.  He also credited President Morales with allowing veterans to receive credit for their service and experience.  “We have a voice here.”

[video] The Underground Railroad’s Trail to Freedom

Debbie-Ann Paige recently appeared on Secrets of New York, which aired on NYC Life, as a Sandy Ground Historian.

In cooperation with the Sandy Ground Historical Society, College of Staten Island graduate student Debbie-Ann Paige has worked tirelessly over the past several years to document the presence of Underground Railroad way-stations on Staten Island.

Specifically, she has examined the participation of Louis Napoleon, a “conductor” on the Underground Railroad and an important link in the long chain of abolitionists who assisted self-liberated slaves as they passed through Staten Island and New York on their way to Canada. Her research has resulted in Louis Napoleons’s house being named a national landmark.

“Staten Island does not get enough attention as a stop on the Underground Railroad,” according to Paige, who joined the College to earn a BA in History after retiring from the military. Until Paige, very little has been said about how the free Black community of Staten Island played a role in the liberation of freed slaves.

“So much here needs to be uncovered,” said Paige when discussing Staten Island’s role in African American history.

Paige, who grew up in Staten Island, admits that she knew very little about Black history before she began researching the subject.  It was not until she moved back to Staten Island with her husband who had served in the military for 20 years that she decided to return to CSI and study history. “I always had this love for genealogy,” she said, addressing why she chose history as her area of concentration.  She then began studying slavery and started “narrowing the scope” to the abolitionists in Staten Island.

Paige is currently writing her Master’s thesis tentatively titled “Race and Anti-Slavery Politics on Staten Island,” but her work at CSI is only the tip of the iceberg.  Along with writing her thesis, working 50 hours a week, and her work collaborating with Sandy Ground, she also recently appeared on an episode of Secrets of New York, which aired on NYC Life, as a Sandy Ground Historian discussing the Underground Railroad.

“I feel like a scholar,” Paige said, while discussing her accomplishments.  “It’s an amazing feeling.”

The MA is not the final stop in Paige’s academic career.  The founding member and first Vice President of the Phi Alpha Theta History Honor Society at CSI plans on obtaining a PhD in Archival Studies and hopes to one day work for a historical society of her own, gathering collections for museums and academic libraries.  She credits her professors at CSI, namely Jonathan Sassi, Associate Professor of History and Chair of the History Department, for helping her focus by “constantly challenging me at every turn.”

“I have enjoyed working with Debbie-Ann Paige as her thesis advisor, because she combines her passion for history with a doggedness in the archives that has yielded original findings,” said Professor Sassi.

Paige’s work has even garnered national attention as the National Parks Service designated Louis Napoleon’s house a national landmark due to her research.

“While historians have long acknowledged the importance of Staten Island resident abolitionists like Sidney Howard Gay, secretary of the American Anti-Slavery Society, and the Shaw family of St. George, very little has been said about how the free Black community of Staten Island played a role in this story. I am proud that Ms. Paige’s efforts have resulted in the National Park Service officially recognizing and commemorating Napoleon’s participation,” noted Catherine Lavender, Director of the American Studies Program and Associate Professor with the College’s History Department.

The work was a labor of love. Paige said that she relishes the opportunity to prove her ideas to other academics. “I love the research.  I love the hunt,” she said.  “Not enough scholars give genealogy, the micro-economics of history, enough attention.”

CSI Student Veterans Work to Improve Conditions for all Staten Island Veterans and Active Duty Military

Student veterans join Michael Cusick, Charles Schumer, and James Molinaro at a recent press conference at the CSI WTC Memorial Garden in support of increasing the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Basic Allowance for Housing that currently provides active duty personnel living on Staten Island and veterans attending college on Staten Island with thousands of dollars less compared to the other four boroughs of New York City.

The Veterans Educational Transition Services (V.E.T.S.), as well as the CSI Student Veteran Center, has always worked to serve CSI’s student veterans by offering them guidance in transitioning to college student life. What is not well known about the group that is working so tirelessly to aid incoming veterans is that the men who make up the V.E.T.S. team are veterans themselves.

The CSI Student Veteran Center has earned much nationwide praise for its ability to help veterans due to the fact that the veterans are being aided by people who know full well how difficult the transition to student life can be. “Being in the military is obviously stressful and dangerous,” said Joseph DiMarco, a member of the V.E.T.S team and former Marine.  “Many of these incoming veterans look forward to being “normal” college students.”

One of the factors that have made CSI a “Top Military Friendly School” three years running is its willingness to work with incoming vets struggling to assimilate to college life. “The collaborative efforts of the V.E.T.S. facilitate a smooth transition from military to student life for veterans and their families by providing a strong support system and centralized “vet-friendly” services on campus,” said Vito Zajda, Deputy Registrar at CSI.

One way that CSI aids veterans is by instituting “Life Credits” for certain subjects. For example, many physical education requirements are waved for veteran students because since they are military veterans, they have already successfully completed boot camp. “The departments are behind us,” said V.E.T.S. team member Christopher Longo (Army National Guard). “That sort of support is key when working with veteran students.”

As a result of this campus-wide support and the efforts of the V.E.T.S. team, Senator Charles S. Schumer recently held an event in front of the 9/11 memorial  at CSI offering support for Staten Island vets and calling for the Department of Defense (DOD) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to revise their Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) regulations that currently provide active duty personnel living on Staten Island and veterans attending college on Staten Island with thousands of dollars less in housing than those in the other four boroughs of New York City.

“Our job as elected officials is to honor these vets,” said Senator Schumer. “S.I. vets and soldiers risked everything for their country and they deserve equal support.”

CSI President Tomás D. Morales, who had been writing the DOD about the issue, was encouraged by the Senator’s remarks, saying “I believe the DOD officials will do the right thing.”

For their part, the CSI V.E.T.S. team has never wavered in their support for continuing the CSI tradition of assisting incoming vets by offering assistance in anything from filling out application forms to offering books and laptops to veteran students who need them. “We know how tough the transition can be since we’re vets ourselves,” said David Colon, a V.E.T.S. team member and retired member of the Coast Guard. “The current BAH hurts all of us because vets are forced to work two to three jobs to make ends meet or not come here (CSI) at all.”

The three V.E.T.S. team members all share a passion,  not only their fellow veteran students, but for CSI, as well. “CSI has given us a lot to work with,” said Colon. “The campus’ willingness to work with vets is unequaled,” adding that “CSI is a great institution. It is part of the life blood of Staten Island.”

CSI has progressed so far in its assistance of veteran students that the Veteran’s Center at CSI is currently serving as a model for other veteran centers across the country.

The conjunction of the V.E.T.S. team members’ passion and the College’s willingness to work with the vets has made CSI one of the top schools for helping military personnel transition to civilian life; so much so that even Senator Schumer commented on this.

Zajda adds that “the veterans services CSI provides could not be possible without the continued support of Dr. Morales, Student Affairs, Academic Affairs, and the entire College community.”

 

 

[video] Staten Island’s soldiers, veterans shorted on housing stipend

Sen. Charles Schumer, speaking at the College of Staten Island with Borough President James Molinaro and state Assemblyman Michael Cusick (D-Mid-Island), called on the Department of Defense to put soldiers and veterans living on Staten Island and going to college on an equal footing with their counterparts in the other boroughs. Photo and caption courtesy of the Staten Island Advance / SI Live.

STATEN ISLAND ADVANCE – Add the Department of Defense to the long list of agencies that slight Staten Islanders.

Borough veterans in college and active-duty soldiers get thousands of dollars less than their counterparts in New York City’s other four boroughs because an “arbitrary” process put Staten Island into its own funding category, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said.

“On Staten Island, the housing benefit is treated differently than for everyone else in New York City,” Schumer said yesterday afternoon at the College of Staten Island. “The Department of Defense classifies Staten Island separately from New York City. Now they claim, ‘Well, we did that because there are lower living costs on Staten Island.”

Veterans attending college and active-duty military personnel receive a Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) to help defray some cost-of-living expenses so that they can better concentrate on their studies and make a smoother transition from soldier to student, said veteran and CSI student David Colon of South Beach.

“A lot of veterans, when they come home and become students, what they have a problem with is work — they wind up having to find two jobs and three jobs because they don’t get that supplemental income that the rest of the city gets,” Colon said. “The whole purpose of the stipend was so veterans would have an easier time acclimating to student life and not having to worry about working a full-time job.”

Using a common military pay grade of E-5 as a comparison, BAH recipients on Staten Island get 42 percent less assistance than those in the other boroughs — that translates to about $900 less per month for housing for veterans in college, according to numbers provided by Schumer’s office.

“When I came to school, this veterans center [on the CSI campus] was just kind of starting up, and these guys help us get registered, they help figure out what classes we need to take, they help guide us and maybe figuring out a major that will help you get a good job in the future,” said veteran and CSI student Lee Siegfried of Huguenot. “I think it’s great that the government will give us money for a basic housing allowance, but there’s no reason that they should fine you — basically, they’re fining these guys $1,300 to $1,500 a month for living on Staten Island.”

The fix can be accomplished administratively by the DoD without having to navigate legislative hurdles, Schumer explained, and he hopes to hear from the department soon.

“The city, the state, the Port Authority, the MTA — Staten Island is equal when it comes to increasing tolls but it’s not equal when they want to take care of our veterans,” said Assemblyman Michael Cusick (D-Mid-Island). “Let’s make sure that Staten Island is treated equal. Last I checked, we’re still part of New York City, and so are our veterans.”

The New York City Housing and Vacancy Survey, conducted every three years by the federal Census Bureau, found that the median Staten Island rent was $900, while the Bronx’s median rent was lower, at $820, and Brooklyn’s median rent was slightly higher, at $919.

“Our veterans are one segment of our population who should never be denied what’s due to them, and our government has a habit of doing that,” said Borough President James Molinaro.

This story was originally published in the Staten Island Advance and on SILive.com on Saturday, February 04, 2012, and is reprinted here with permission.

[NY1 video] Congressman Michael McMahon and CSI Call for Equality for Staten Island Vets

The College of Staten Island (CSI) participated in a joint press conference with Congressman Michael McMahon (NY-13) this week at the College’s 9/11 Memorial to publicly call for an end to the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) discrepancy between Staten Island and the other four boroughs of New York City.

View NY1 News coverage on the CSI Today Video on Demand Channel.

The BAH is an integral component of the post-9/11 GI Bill benefits designed to support returning war veterans pursuing a college education. The current basic housing allowance for veterans attending college on Staten Island is $2,034 monthly, whereas veterans attending college in the other boroughs of New York City receive $2,751 monthly.

“It is unacceptable for a young returning soldier from Eltingville, Stapleton, or Tottenville to receive an allowance that is 25% less than a veteran, just over the bridge, in Bay Ridge or Bensonhurst,” McMahon began. “Let me be clear, the veterans on the other end of my district have earned their allowance, and I would never advocate for reducing Brooklyn’s BAH. However, Staten Island’s vets have the same living expenses and deserve the same amount from the VA. The resolution of this issue is a great priority and a part of my Three Point Plan for veterans in Congress.”

“This difference in monthly benefits can be a deciding factor for veterans when enrolling in college,” commented Urszula Echols, Veterans Coordinator at CSI. She further explained that “the level of benefits is determined by a school’s zip code, which means that New York City veterans who do not live on Staten Island but attend college here receive the lower benefit. Regardless of a veteran’s residence, veterans should not be penalized for attending college on Staten Island.”

CSI currently has more than 200 veterans enrolled, nearly half of which receive the post-9/11 GI Bill benefits and are directly affected by the basic housing allowance.

“I chose CSI to pursue my education because of the reputation CSI has for helping veterans transition from military to civilian life,” said Christopher Longo, Vice President of the Armed Forces Club at CSI and member of the NY National Guard. Longo, who works part-time in the College’s Registrar’s Office is also a member of the Veterans Education Transitional Service or “VETS” team, where he has assisted 98 student veterans in successfully receiving Chapter 33 post-9/11 GI Bill funds.

CSI, twice recognized by GI Jobs magazine as being a Top Military-Friendly School in the United States, has a dynamic Student Veteran Center that ensures a smooth transition from military life to the college experience by providing veterans with a strong support system and centralized “vet-friendly” services that are available to all student veterans and veteran dependents, as well as their family members. According to Echols, “The Vet Center offers confidential, personal, and academic support services that are sensitive to veterans’ issues. We work closely with the Armed Forces Club and the Certifying Official to ensure that student veterans are receiving earned benefits and are informed about veterans’ issues.”

“CSI shows a high level of appreciation and concern for their veterans. I do not just feel like a student here, but a member of a family as well,” commented CSI student and Armed Forces Club member Ian Dahlberg, who is also a member of the United States Coast Guard. “Our Basic Housing Allowance is our means for living and surviving in our local economy. I do not want to have to quit school because the GI Bill fails to realize the true cost of living in Staten Island.”

“The Department of Defense’s formula for calculating the BAH is imprecise and simply does not reflect the higher cost of living in Staten Island and must be readjusted immediately,” stated McMahon. “Returning veterans already face a wide range of issues as they readjust to their day-to-day lives. I have successfully devoted my first term to increasing the resources available to our returning heroes and I am ready to devote my second to meet the needs of Staten Island’s returning vets pursuing higher education through the post-9/11 GI Bill.”

“The College of Staten Island is deeply committed to our students and to our community,” commented Dr. Tomás D. Morales, president of CSI. “I applaud the efforts of CSI’s Student Veteran Center. I also want to thank and commend Congressman McMahon, and all our elected officials, for their tireless dedication to the people and students of Staten Island.”

Congressman Michael McMahon discusses the BAH discrepancy affecting Staten Island on the CSI campus.

CSI Named a Top Military Friendly School

G.I. Jobs announced the release of its 2010 list of Military Friendly Schools. The list honors the top 15 percent of colleges, universities, and trade schools that are doing the most to embrace the United States of America’s veterans as students.

The College of Staten Island, a senior college of The City University of New York, was recognized for its commitment to serving the needs of students with military experience, and its wide array of services specifically designed for current, new, and future Veteran students.

“The Office of the Registrar and Student Veteran Center currently uses a ‘One-Stop’ approach to assist with the transition from soldier to student,” said Vito Zajda, Deputy Registrar at CSI. “The services offered include individualized workshops with each student to discuss benefits, advisement, financial aid, registration, college life, and a detailed graduation plan.” He added that the College also has a Veterans student club, as well as an Armed Forces Club, where students can meet, network, and plan activities.”

Zajda, who is also the Veterans Advisor Certifying Officer and a Transfer Evaluation Specialist, adds that CSI is “anticipating an enrollment of over 200 Veterans this semester.”

These students also have the resources of the CSI Student Veteran Center, which is available online at www.csi.cuny.edu/veterans. Services include confidential personal and academic assistance provided by a professional counselor, sensitive to veterans’ issues. The Center also works closely with many other campus departments providing readjustment counseling, academic advisement, and educational and financial aid benefits, along with information and referrals to disability and mental health services, academic support, health and wellness services, academic and vocational counseling, and various community resources.

To further serve the increasing population, CSI will be offering a required general education course called Core 100, which will be specifically designed for Veterans for the first time this fall. Zajda will be teaching this section and serving the Veterans in the dual role of administrator and faculty member, providing the students with ready access to information pertinent to veterans’ affairs.

“I am very pleased that CSI has been honored by being named a Military Friendly School. This is in no small part due to the efforts of Vito Zajda, Rose Meyers, and Urszula Echols, who have worked so hard to make CSI a welcoming place for returning veterans,” commented Donna Scimeca, the Core Program Coordinator at CSI. “Our new course, Core for Veterans, will also provide an informal student support network and is designed to help make the transition to civilian life just a little bit easier for these brave young people.”

“Veterans need a trusted friend to help them decide where to get educated. The Military Friendly Schools list is that trusted friend,” said Rich McCormack, G.I. Jobs publisher.

The list was compiled through exhaustive research starting last May during which G.I. Jobs polled more than 7,000 schools nationwide. Methodology, criteria, and weighting for the list were developed with the assistance of an Academic Advisory Committee (AAC) consisting of educators and administrators from Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Toledo, Duquesne University, Coastline Community College, and Lincoln Technical Institute.

A detailed list of Military Friendly Schools will be highlighted in the annual Guide to Military Friendly Schools. A new Web site, www.militaryfriendlyschools.com, will launch in September with interactive tools and search functionality to assist military veterans in choosing schools that best meet their educational needs.

CSI has been selected for inclusion in the G. I. Jobs 2010 list of Military Friendly Colleges.