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A veteran’s perspective

Gary Thompson AE2 (AW) USN-Ret. (Photo submitted)

Fulton-Montgomery Community College is a very welcoming campus to both veterans and current military members. Thousands of veterans are enrolled in the State University of New York (SUNY) system and FM is honored that so many students, like former FM student Gary Thompson, chose FM to pursue higher education.

At our recent annual Veteran Appreciation Luncheon we honored our veteran students and staff members who were able to talk with Gary about his experience and transition from military to college and beyond.

Gary is a Navy veteran who served in Operation Noble Eagle and Operation Enduring Freedom. His tour of duty with the U.S. Navy was from 2000 to 2008; and during his enlistment he spent a great deal of time in Walter Reed Hospital recovering from cancer treatments.

After leaving the military he moved to Fultonville. Gary just wanted to get back to work, but was afraid of civilian life. He had grown accustomed to having a plan of the day (POD) issued by an air commander who told him what to wear, when to eat and when to sleep. So he decided that to talk with a vocational rehab officer at the local Stratton Veteran’s Administration about his educational benefits and ask for advice. His vocational rehabilitation officer, Brian Klim, suggested that he go back to college and speak with Moira Samek, a financial aid advisor at FM.

Gary felt that FM really held out a hand of support for veterans and recognized the sacrifices that he made while serving. The opportunities that were offered from the annual veteran’s luncheon, the veteran’s lounge located on the campus, and active military and veteran’s club, really made him feel how supportive FM was in acknowledging and appreciating their veteran students.

Gary stated, “Each professor and professional staff member offered a warm smile and even offered their personal time to help me get started. I was very surprised how organized and yet how simple the process was to get started each semester. The warm atmosphere that the small college provided helped me with any anxiety that I was dealing with. Even today, they are a big part of my success as a Siena Saint. Thank you FM.”

Gary successfully transferred to Siena College after completing his associate’s degree at FM.

If you are a veteran and are considering going back to college, visit the military and veterans information on the college’s website at fmcc.edu or call Moira Samek or Christie Davis at (518) 736-3622, Ext. 8203 or 8163 to set up a time to visit the campus and talk specifically about what FM has to offer our veteran students.

This article was written by Moira Samek, financial aid advisor and Gary Thompson AE2 (AW) USN-Ret.