Salem VFW post donates $1,000 towards Veterans Center at YSU

SALEM – Last November, Youngstown State University issued a call to Mahoning Valley companies and organizations to raise $1.25 million for a Veterans Resource Center.

On Wednesday, the Allen Reynolds Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 892 in Salem donated a $1,000 check for the center that was accepted by businessman Shorty Navarro on behalf of YSU.

The university, through its office of development, said the country’s war on terrorism placed a large number of citizens in uniform and the spring of 2012 census showed 340 veterans ranging in age from 19 to 54.

Pointing to a 2009 study, the university said 12,000 veterans “reside within YSU’s service area.”

That number is expected to increase as soldiers return from overseas service and in anticipation of that YSU plans to bolster its profile with the creation of the Veterans Resource Center.

Building on YSU’s “military friendly” designation for the last four years, the center will serve as the new site for the Office of Veterans Affairs and its primary clients will be students who are registered as veterans.

According to the project overview, they “will be given access to all the necessary information regarding veteran’s benefits, application procedures and other related information.”

The aim is to create a successful student experience, the university said.

The center, under construction since October 2013 and expected to open in the fall semester, includes a technology-equipped study space; community space for independent and group study topics like healthcare, counseling, financial and legal resources, along with a classroom.

These privileges will be available only to registered veterans and invited community groups including veterans.

Navarro, a USMC veteran and member of the current campaign cabinet raising money for the center, said, “It’s something we’re all very proud of. It’s going to be very good for all the veterans. They have a place they can go to get help. It’s going to be a beautiful facility.”

Frank Goetz, a past commander of VFW Post 892 in Salem, said the VFW, which donated $1,000 for the center on Wednesday, has been working the past four to five months raising money.

“This will be good for the old and new vets,” he said.

“We’re trying to get rid of the red tape here is what we’re trying to do.”

To date, $850,000 has been secured in gifts and commitments.

All donors who give more than $1,000 or more will be recognized on a donor wall recognition system in the facility.