The celebration of the grand opening of Youngstown State University’s Veterans Resource Center was held on Sept. 26, complete with music, speeches by notable veterans and alumni — including Harry Meshel, Bernie Kosar Sr. and Carl Nunziato — and plenty of fanfare.
The Veterans Center will help current and former members of the military who are enrolled at YSU by providing veterans on campus with services for their education and potential career.
To construct the Veterans Center, $1.3 million was needed. To date, only $1 million has been raised, but Nunziato, a member of the YSU Veterans Affairs Advisory Council, believes that enough money will be raised to meet their budget.
The money generated for the Veterans Center was gathered through donations from multiple groups and veterans organizations, among other methods.
“Bernie, Harry and I knocked on doors and talked to people,” Nunziato said.
The three will also ask for donations to establish multiple scholarships for veterans at YSU. The scholarships would help the veterans and family members with costs during their time at YSU.
“They’re going to be for the veterans, their children and their spouses — for those who don’t qualify for the respective G.I. bill because there are quite a few that don’t,” Nunziato said.
Housing for the Veterans Center was supposed to be placed in one of the vacant buildings surrounding campus. After looking through several buildings, the amount of damage was too extreme, and the committee decided to construct a new building all together.
“When we started this concept, Dr. Sweet was here, and we talked about doing something for the veterans,” Nunziato said. “So, we opened the Office of Veteran Affairs. We bounced around several little offices around campus. I envisioned having a bigger place and as a couple years passed, we went through about five sites on-campus. We were going to use a 104-year-old dwelling.”
Meshel, another member of the Veterans Affairs Advisory Council and a member of the YSU Board of Trustees, believes that the Veterans Center will be of interest for veterans looking for a college education, and the services provided can eventually increase the enrollment for the university.
“We have the best veterans program, then we can encourage people to come over from Stark County, from Akron and other places,” Meshel said. “That’s the only way you’re going to appeal to them. You have to have better programs than the other ones.”
Meshel would like to establish a committee that consists of veterans to help soldiers at YSU. The idea would be similar to the Penguin Club, which deals with former members of the athletic department.
“I would like to create a veterans group similar to the Penguin Club,” Meshel said. “They’re composed of people all involved in athletics, and I would like to get an organization like that community-wide, involving as many veterans groups as possible strictly for education. For veterans to come here, as well as their children who become veterans, it’s kind of a veteran’s backup place.”
While the potential enrollment of veterans would help the university financially, the goal of the Veterans Center is to aid the veterans. The Veterans Center will provide a relaxed surrounding. A computer lab and lounge will be available so the servicemen and women have a stress-free environment.
“We should multiply the membership here because we have the only facility of its kind in the state of Ohio right now,” Meshel said. “We keep improving the numbers on our staff and working harder at recruiting veterans to come to this university from all over this area.”