Department of New York Commander Kenneth Governor presented the charter and installed officers May 28 for Admiral Richard L. Conolly Post 2014 at Long Island University's Post College (LIU Post) in Brookville, NY.
Governor took a moment to remind the student veterans about the history of the GI Bill, first enacted in 1944 and today offering expanded benefits for post-9/11 veterans. A former American Legion national commander drafted the original GI Bill, Governor noted, and "in the peak year of 1947, veterans accounted for 49 percent of college admissions." By the time the original GI Bill ended in 1956, "7.8 million of 16 million World War II veterans had participated in an education or training program."
|Commander Ken Governor (center) presents charter to student veterans. |
Michael Knauer, commander of the new post, told Newsday that student veterans can now draw support from one of the country's premier national service organizations, and help chart its future.
"With the number of veterans who are transitioning back to civilian life, it just makes sense to make it easier for us to feel we belong," said Knauer, 37, of Great Neck, a former Coast Guard petty officer who left the service in 2007. The new post has 20 members, including two former students. All are from the post-9/11 era.
|Commander Governor installs officers of new college post.|
"We want to reach out and have a positive experience."
Organizers said the new Post would use recreational activities to attract student veterans.
In February, Knauer and others staged the Medal of Honor Challenge, a physical fitness contest, to raise the profile of veterans during LIU Post's Greek Week.
Matt Gabriel, 27, of Commack, a vice commander at the post and the Long Island organizer of Team Red White and Blue, said he would offer that group's running and outdoor activities as an enticement to prospective Legion members, Newsday reported.
Other post officers include Vice Commander Dan Pontenzieri, Treasurer Olatokunbo Oke and Chaplain Julio Hernandez.
Leaders from Nassau County Legion and the Department of New York participated in the chartering and installation ceremony, along with the great grandchildren of Admiral Conolly.
Nassau County Commander Angelo Gande served as master of ceremonies, and Jackie Nealon, vice president for enrollment, campus life and communications, welcomed everyone to the campus. Also present were Department Vice Commander William Davison and Department Adjutant Jim Casey. The admiral's great-grandson, Navy Lt. Commander Jay Conolly, and great-granddaughter, Victoria Conolly, offered remarks on behalf of the Conolly family. Nassau County Sgt-at-Arms Reginald Butt Jr., a past county commander, escorted distinguished guests. Past County Commander Anthony Paternostro performed the POW/MIA ceremony, and County Chaplain Ralph Casey gave the invocation and benediction.
Photos by Nassau County American Legion Historian James T. Randle.