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UD expands services for veterans

UD expands services for veterans

Shannon Shelton Miller November 08, 2019

The University has launched multiple efforts to enhance the veteran and military-affiliated student experience. In August, UD hired Sam Surowitz as the first director of Military and Veteran Programs and Services, a new office established to better serve the needs of UD’s veteran and military-affiliated student population and increase recruitment of this diverse group that includes veterans, those currently in service and family members.

As part of its ongoing work to make a UD education more accessible and affordable to high-achieving students, the University has made increased efforts to reach veteran students. The University offers a Student Veterans of America chapter on campus and recently started a chapter of SALUTE, a national honor society for veteran students. In addition to adding more resources through Flyer Student Services, University President Eric F. Spina issued a statement this fall in support of veteran students.

ROTC members present the flag at graduationSurowitz previously worked in several positions in the University of Connecticut’s Veterans Affairs and Military Programs office. His duties included teaching a veterans' first-year experience course, advising a veteran student organization, starting a veterans’ center at the university’s Hartford campus, assisting military appreciation programs at sporting events and coordinating a homeless veterans’ care package drive. He also advised students on state and federal educational benefits related to their veteran status.

Surowitz served on UConn’s board of trustees as a graduate student representative and, as a voting member, worked to improve the school’s military and veteran policies. He earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in public administration from UConn. He served in the Army on active duty from 2007-11, graduating from Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade and deploying to Iraq, Afghanistan and Djibouti. From 2011-17 he served as squad leader, platoon sergeant and drill sergeant in the Army Reserve. In 2017, he joined  the National Guard, where he commissioned in 2018 after graduating from officer candidate school.

“My passion is working with military and veteran students,” Surowitz said. “Having been a student, an employee and a University trustee while serving in the military, I felt that I knew a lot about the needs of veterans in higher education and I wanted to continue to give more in this field.”  

At UD, Surowitz works closely with Shane Arrington, assistant director of financial aid and coordinator of veterans services, and Racqueal Gamble, associate director, partnerships and programs/veteran services.

“There are many technical challenges for student veterans and service members in balancing their educational and non-educational goals,” Surowitz said. “Many are older students and have families with children, and many are working. I want to help the University work with students to navigate those goals and help the University’s overall policy better reflect those needs.”

Members of the University of Dayton community will participate in events on and off campus during Veterans Day 2019, Monday, Nov. 11, to honor veterans and thank them for their service.

A special blessing and remembrance of alumni who died in active service will take place during 12:30 p.m. Mass at the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception. A reception with light refreshments will take place following the service.

UD ROTC cadets will participate in a run around campus from 6-7 a.m. and distribute coffee and donuts to fellow students near the water fountain outside Kennedy Union from 8-9 a.m. The cadets will also  present the colors for the memorial service at the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial Park on Patterson and Stewart streets at 11 a.m. and sign a proclamation to help to maintain the park.

Conversation with UD's director of military programs