Dear Orange Friends:
Syracuse University has more than 1,000 students who are veterans or connected to the military. Each of our student veterans brings a life experience that enriches our campus, more so when we are able to hear and learn from their experiences. That is why the innovative collaboration between student veterans and Syracuse Stage artistic staff has extraordinary potential. Last week, in what I hope will be the first of many such opportunities to hear from our veterans, Ruth and I attended an incredibly powerful performance of “Separated.” The show at Syracuse Stage is based on the experiences of eight Syracuse students who served in the Army, Navy or Marines. The title references how veterans become separated from home and family when they join the military, then must separate from the military to resume civilian life.
Their at times difficult and heart-wrenching experiences hold truths for all of us—about purpose and perseverance, vulnerability and courage, family and friendship. Those of us in the audience—in a packed theater that spilled over into the lobby—were gripped by the honesty and stirred by the passion of the individuals whose lives were woven together in a compelling narrative.
I was struck by how little most of us truly understand the experience of these students—and how inspiring it was to hear about all they’ve achieved. It also reminded me of why we at Syracuse University have chosen to be the nation’s leader in higher education service to our veterans. We are uniquely prepared to welcome them, recognize the experiences they bring to this campus, ease their transitions and offer them a promising future.
I thank Syracuse Stage’s new artistic director Robert Hupp for his direction and associate artistic director Kyle Bass for his powerful script. I thank the staff from Hendricks Chapel, the Syracuse University Student Veterans Association and the University Office of Veteran and Military Affairs for their support of this important effort. And, I especially thank the students—Nick Brincka, Halston Canty, Zack Couch, Ginger Peterman, Brandon Smith, Jake VanMarter, Zack Watson and Kierston Whaley—who had the courage to share their stories.
Chancellor Kent Syverud