St. Joseph’s University, New York hosted its annual Veterans Day Celebrations at both campuses this month, honoring those who have served.
The Long Island Campus hosted its event Thursday, Nov. 9, in the new Student Center with the dedication of the Kroog Center for Veterans. The Brooklyn Campus’ event took place Monday, Nov. 13, recognizing all student, staff and faculty veterans, as well as their family members.
“It’s an emotional day, because all of us in this room have some connection to the military,” President Donald R. Boomgaarden, Ph.D., said at the Long Island event. “When I came here to St. Joe’s, I was thrilled that we had an active veterans program. Right now, we currently have 158 veterans enrolled, but we have many hundreds that are alumni, and many hundreds that are donors who are part of our family, both here and, of course, in Brooklyn.”
Both events celebrated 20 years of service by America’s VetDogs, with this year’s challenge coin representing that honor. The SVA chose to partner with them this year, raising funds for the nonprofit during the 2023-24 academic year.
“America’s VetDogs provides duel internationally accredited service dogs to disabled veterans and first responders who could benefit from having a service animal,” said Nathan Gardner ’23, president of the Student Veterans of America chapter on the Long Island Campus and a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, who spoke at both events.
“Each dog requires $50,000 in training to become one of their service dogs,” said Gardner, who goes everywhere with his service dog, Kenzo. “I discovered America’s VetDogs through higher education and the SVA, and Kenzo changed my life.”
The Kroog Center for Veterans
Brennin Kroog ’09, a Board of Trustees member, and his wife Melissa Kroog ’09 dedicated the Kroog Center for Veterans in honor of Brennin’s sister, U.S. Army Reserve SSG Jena Kroog.
“On behalf of my family, thank you for allowing us to play a very small role in what is a very big day,” Kroog said. “To our student veterans, while we know it will never be enough, my family and I are very much looking forward to continuing our support for years and years to come. We’re very proud of all that you’ve accomplished and will accomplish both here at St. Joe’s and beyond.”
With the U.S. Army Reserve, SSG Kroog she serves as a squad leader and assistant platoon sergeant of the 423rd Military Police Company. Her 14 years of military service include nine years of active duty, with multiple deployments across the world.
“The Kroog Center for Veterans will honor you and your families for your sacrifices and will ensure that you are set up for success through your studies here and your future endeavors,” SSG Kroog said.
Gardner shared his thanks for the new center during his speech.
“On behalf of the SVA and all military affiliated students of St. Joseph’s University, I want to extend my greatest heartfelt
thank you for your charitable donation to the new room,” said Gardner, who’s now working on his MBA at the Long Island Campus. “The Kroog Center for Veterans is a room where student veterans can be together. It gives student veterans and military-affiliated students a place to collaborate with each other, study, host meetings, have events, and associate with the rest of the student population, faculty and administration.”