The Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University celebrated its service of 100,000 military service members, veterans and their families, Wednesday October 17 in the atrium of the Heroy Geology building with a formal reception attended by over 150 University leaders, stakeholders, donors, IVMF alumni and staff.
Vice Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives and Innovation, and IVMF Founder and Executive Director Dr. Mike Haynie opened the event with welcoming remarks before former Secretary of Veteran Affairs Bob McDonald emphasized the critical role the IVMF plays in the veteran service space.
“In six years, we have gone from four employees and a student worker running three small programs, to a staff of 100 running 65 programs that graduate more than 20,000 participants a year and conducting research that is informing public policy and transforming how social services delivered,” said Haynie. “While we celebrate that significant accomplishment, we are really celebrating the impact we have had on those who defend our nation’s freedom.”“The job of caring for our veterans is critical to our country,” said McDonald. “As we work together as Americans to make a difference, the IVMF has set a strong and impressive example for how to care for veterans, service members and their families.”On behalf of those served, Nathan Smith, an Army veteran who accessed services through IVMF’s AmericaServes program, spoke about the challenges he faced following his service in Iraq.
Upon returning home, Smith found himself homeless, jobless, and had his son placed in sponsored care. He reached out to TexasServes, the AmericaServes affiliate in his area who helped him navigate the VA healthcare system, placed him in stable housing, helped him secure a job with Dell Computer in Austin, and ultimately regain custody of his son.
“After I returned home from the service, I hit rock bottom,” said Smith. “I was unemployed, homeless, and without my son. I am thankful to AmericaServes for turning my life around and grateful they are still here for me today.”
Event attendees signed a commemorative piece to be mounted in the National Veterans Resource Center, the first-of-its-kind multi-use facility dedicated to advancing academic research, programming and community-connected innovation serving the social, economic and wellness concerns of the nation’s veterans and families, opening in 2020.
The IVMF was born out of the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans (EBV) program at the Whitman School of Management. Run by Haynie, EBV, an initiative designed to empower military veterans through entrepreneurship, launched in 2007 and he later launched the Institute in 2011. Today, IVMF is the nation’s first, interdisciplinary academic institute focused purposefully on informing and affecting the policy, economic, wellness, and social concerns the nation’s veterans and their families.
The Institute’s programs directly impact more than 23,000 veterans and family members annually, and the IVMF is widely acknowledged as the nation’s hub of academic thought leadership related to the post-service concerns of America’s veterans and military-connected families.The IVMF is one of several initiatives that exemplify Syracuse University’s longstanding commitment to the veteran and military-connected population.
Syracuse’s legacy of supporting veterans began in 1946 following Chancellor Tolley’s announcement to open the campus to veterans returning from World War II, effectively doubling the student body overnight. The University is furthering its commitment to the veteran and military-connected population with the construction of the National Veterans Resource Center (NVRC), a first-of-its-kind multi-use facility dedicated to advancing academic research, programming and community-connected innovation serving the social, economic and wellness concerns of the nation’s veterans and families. The NVRC is scheduled open in spring 2020.