SUNYIT Hosts Annual Central New York Veterans Expo
Marcy, NY (WIBX) – SUNYIT welcomed hundreds of veterans who met with support groups and organizations during the college’s 6th annual Central New York Veterans Expo.
Army Ranger Staff Sergeant Andrew Davis was the keynote speaker. Davis served in Afghanistan and Iraq, and co-founded Comfort for Change at the University of Minnesota.
Following Davis’ talk, veterans met with more than 80 vendors, including New Hartford American Legion Post #1376, the American Red Cross and Soldier On, a nonprofit organization providing transitional housing for homeless vets.
Dennis Thorp, a service officer with the New Hartford post, said events like this are important for keeping veterans actively involved in the community.
“It’s a chance for them socialize and get some information from the Veterans Administration, to a lot of classes and a lot of events that we have throughout this area,” Thorp said. “We have all kinds of activities that the vets can occupy themselves.”
Michael Sportello, a retired Army veteran and advocate, attended today’s event to learn about updated benefits and recent changes. He also said he wanted to talk with other vets.
“The veterans need to know that there are people who do care, and there are people that are out there who are ready to help them,” Sportello said. “They shouldn’t feel ashamed to try and get those benefits, because you know what? They earned them.”
According to the Syracuse VA Medical Center, nearly 32,000 vets call Herkimer, Oneida and Madison Counties home. The Center also said through June of this year, nearly 50,000 unique veterans walked through their doors for treatment, with another 6,000 visiting their Rome Outpatient Clinic.