Dear Orange Friends:
On Nov. 11 of last year—Veterans Day—Syracuse University was honored to host Maj. Gen. Walter E. Piatt, commander of the 10th Mountain Division, as our guest at Syracuse Football’s annual Military Appreciation Day at the Dome.
Shortly before the holiday break, Maj. Gen. Piatt returned the favor, and invited a contingent from Syracuse University to visit Fort Drum to learn about its mission, its people, and its place in the history of Central and Northern New York.
Founded in 1907, Fort Drum is the headquarters of the United States Army’s 10th Mountain Division, and home to more than 19,000 active duty soldiers and their families. I was anxious and honored to visit Fort Drum because these soldiers and families are our neighbors and oftentimes our students. It is also the case that throughout the past decade, these soldiers and families have quietly shouldered a tremendous burden on behalf of the nation.
The 10th Mountain Division is the most frequently deployed division in the entire United States Army. A soldier stationed at Fort Drum can expect to spend at least one year of his or her three-year assignment deployed somewhere overseas. In fact, while at Fort Drum I learned that next month another large contingent from the 10th Mountain Division—hundreds of our neighbors—are set to deploy to Iraq for the better part of 2018.
I know from ongoing research conducted here, by faculty and students from the Falk College and the Institute for Veterans and Military Families, that these frequent deployments put a tremendous strain on family relationships. The hardest hit are the military children. That is why I appreciated hearing firsthand on my visit just how much partnerships like the one between Syracuse University Athletics and the Fort Drum Youth Sports Program are valued by the families at Fort Drum.
My wife, Dr. Ruth Chen, Professor of Practice at the College of Engineering and Computer Science, joined me on this visit, as did Dr. Mike Haynie, Vice Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives and Innovation; Dolan Evanovich, Senior Vice President for Enrollment and the Student Experience; and Ron Novack, Executive Director of Veteran and Military Affairs. Our group spent the day touring just a very small portion of the enormous 168 square miles that comprise Fort Drum (note our campus is 1.44 square miles).
The highlights of the day included:
• a tour of the barracks, military headquarters, and family housing;
• a demonstration of winter/mountaineering gear and equipment by soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division Light Fighter School;
• a tour of Fort Drum’s historic LeRay Mansion; and
• a visit to the Military Mountaineers “Climb to Glory” Memorial at Memorial Park.
I was deeply impressed by the people of Fort Drum. As we continue our commitment to be the best place in America for veterans and their families, I look forward to a new and expanded relationship with Fort Drum in the years ahead.
Chancellor Kent Syverud