Veteran services

Spotlight on Support: The Military and Veteran Services Center provides support for veterans to succeed

For veterans who dream of making the transition to college, graduating, and pursuing successful careers, John Jay’s Military and Veterans Services Center is a critical source of support. “We work with veterans before they come here and help them transition into college and adjust to any unique challenges they may face. But we also try to focus on life after graduation and offer peer support to make sure our veterans know they’re not alone,” says Richard Pusateri, Director of Military Services and veterans. As someone who served in the United States Navy for 30 years and retired as a Navy captain in the Chaplain Corps, Pusateri understands the importance of providing service to veterans, service members military and military family members receiving benefits under special programs. That’s why he’s proud that John Jay is a pioneer in providing veterans with the services they need to succeed. “John Jay has a 90% graduation rate for veterans and all graduate with at least a 3.3 GPA.”

Stay focused
Veterans and military service members who come to John Jay represent all branches of the military – some come from the Marine Corps, others from the Army, Coast Guard, Navy and Army air. But what they all have in common is that when they decide to date John Jay, they are completely focused on getting their degrees. “With our 400+ veterans, they know what they love and they have a sense of maturity because to survive in the military they had to develop that. They have overcome obstacles and they come here with a purpose,” says Pusateri. “Veterans are at a point in their lives where they are already totally independent. They’ve been there, done it, and succeeded. When they come to John Jay, they are truly committed to getting that degree and appreciate all that John Jay has to offer.

“With our 400+ veterans, they know what they love and they have a sense of maturity because to survive in the military they had to develop that. They have overcome obstacles and they come here with a purpose. —Richard Pusateri

Before coming to John Jay, students tend to contact Pusateri and ask for information about the College and the possibility of becoming part of the Center once they arrive. But the main way the Center ensures that military and veteran students start off on the right path is to make sure they have a major. “When new military and veterans come here, they always come with one to two years of college credit. But I always tell them that before continuing, they have to decide what specialty they want to specialize in. You won’t find a veteran who changes majors multiple times. Because of the experience they have had, once they choose something, they tend to stick with it. And once a veteran chooses their major, the Center for Military and Veteran Services ensures they receive the encouragement they need to take the step to graduation. In addition to peer-to-peer mentoring through the John Jay Veterans Association, the Center offers employment opportunities; a veterans’ center with a lounge, technology center, study and meeting spaces; and the SALUTE Veterans National Honor Society chapter which honors the academic achievements of students.

Tribute to John Jay Veterans
Tribute to John Jay Veterans

welcome everyone
While many colleges have space for veterans, John Jay’s Center has something very special. For starters, John Jay has about 600 veteran students. “We had 503 students on military allowances last year. Fifty students were participating in officer candidate programs, such as the Army ROTC, the Marine Corps Platoon Leaders Course, and the Coast Guard Pre-Commissioning Initiative,” Pusateri explains. “And, last spring, we graduated 214 veterans.” John Jay’s veteran community is made up of veterans and military service members, and their families, and it’s a sense of community that sets the Center apart. “We have a great community of positive veterans here and that makes a difference. Veterans feel older than most of their classmates. But when you notice other veterans in your class, you feel a connection; you know you are part of the community. We want to make sure our veterans know we have their back,” says Pusateri. “This Center does not exclude anyone. Everyone can come and participate in the events we organize and feel like part of the family. This sense of community doesn’t end when veterans graduate from John Jay. “Our elders come back and offer to help the veterans here. Over the past 10 years, I can’t even tell you the number of alumni who come when we have a recruitment, or all the alumni who contact me about a job offer and ask me to recommend a veteran student. Seeing this ongoing networking between current and veteran military students and ex-servicemen is amazing.

“We want to make sure our veterans know we have their back. This Center does not exclude anyone. Anyone can come to our events and feel like part of the family.”—Richard Pusateri

For Pusateri, one of the most amazing things about the College’s veteran community is the number of women there. “We have about 25-28% female veterans here, about 150 females. That’s an incredibly high percentage for most colleges, and the US military has about 16%, so we’re actually higher than that as well,” he says. “Women are very involved in everything we do here. We have women who served in the Marine Corps, and some of them have children. They can do anything, and having them here is really special. When asked why he believed John Jay had a high percentage of female veterans, Pusateri was quick to say it was because of female leadership at the College. “We have a strong female representation here. We have our first female president, and we always try to showcase women as much as possible. It’s okay to be a veteran here and we send the message to others that women have a voice and a place in the John Jay community.

John Jay's Female Veterans
John Jay’s Female Veterans

Exceed expectations
When Nicole Westry ’07, an entry-level sergeant in the military, returned to John Jay after finishing her bachelor’s degree, she noticed she felt more welcomed as a veteran. “The Veterans Association here really gives you the support you need. When I started at John Jay in 2002, I didn’t feel a strong military presence here. And we didn’t have a veteran’s lounge back then,” says Westry. “But now I’m finishing my master’s in college and I feel a tremendous sense of support as a veteran. Pusateri also noted the veteran students’ other accomplishments once they left John Jay. “A veteran went to law school. Another is currently a New Jersey State Trooper. We also have a veteran who saw serious combat in Afghanistan and who, after graduating from college, is studying urban planning at Hunter College. And then there’s a veteran who graduated from John Jay in just two years, with a GPA of 4.0, and now works in marketing.

“Veterans need to know they have a lot of friends in the John Jay community. And we’re incredibly responsive to their needs. »—Richard Pusateri

Offering a final thought, Pusateri encouraged veterans to speak up if they are having difficulty. “We understand that sometimes difficult things happen to the military,” says Pusateri. “Veterans need to know they have a lot of friends in the John Jay community. And we’re incredibly responsive to their needs. If you need help, talk to your peers, come to the Center and don’t be afraid to raise your hand and speak up. We have plenty of wisdom and resources to help you figure out what you want to do and where you can go. ”