Newswise — United States Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Rep. Donald Norcross (D-N.J., 1stDistrict), discussed a range of issues with Rowan student veterans and active military personnel Tuesday during a meeting in the Marketplace dining hall.
The stop on Rowan’s Glassboro campus, held in advance of Election Day Nov. 6, was one of many the legislators are making ahead of Tuesday’s vote.
Speaking with about a dozen student veterans, active personnel and Rowan President Ali Houshmand, Booker and Norcross discussed a variety of issues and interests with the students including their majors, careers sought, their experience in the military and health problems they might be having related to their service.
Leading the discussion, Norcross noted the rising cost of higher education for all students but credited Houshmand for pursuing a variety of initiatives to drive down the cost of a four-year degree.
Booker noted that, from his experience as mayor of Newark to his service in the Senate, U.S. military veterans have continually inspired him.
“If you look at people with military service, they start businesses more and they volunteer more,” he said. “But we, as a nation, are still not doing all we should for veterans.”
Graduate student Robert Weltzin said one area he hoped the legislators can help address is health care.
Weltzin, a Salem County resident who served three tours in the Middle East as a nuclear chemist aboard the submarines U.S.S. Toledo and U.S.S. Miami, said he’d been hurt in an automobile accident after leaving the Navy but got caught in an administrative gray area – he was eligible for medical care through the Veterans Administration but lived too far from clinics in Philadelphia and Vineland to make access to that care practical.
Weltzin, who’s working on a master’s degree in engineering management, said policies are being put into place that would enable veterans to receive care anywhere. Until then, he’s working on his education and making do with the access he has.
“You’re an impressive young man,” Booker said.
Music industry technology major Travis Keiser said after serving more than four years in the Army he, like many other veterans, sought mental health counseling on his return to civilian life.
“I want people to know that it’s O.K. to seek help if you think you need it,” Keiser said.
“We hear it and unfortunately see (a need for) it every day,” Norcross said.
In addition to Weltzin and Keiser, the meeting was attended by Rowan student veterans and active personnel Marc Di Pinto, Daniel Duffy, Zachary Duke, Deryck Dutkanicz, Grant Gunnarson, Liliana Juarez-Corona, Eric Salera, Eric Seyfried, Joseph Tamimi, Brian Wojciechowski and Robert Yencha.
Following the meeting, Booker and Norcross appeared at a rally organized by the Rowan University student Democrat Club.
Delivering an address in the Student Center pit, Booker implored students to get out and vote.
“Bad things happen in America when good people don’t vote,” he said. “It’s not about right or left. It’s about right or wrong.”