Clear Path for Veterans Southern Tier brings Mobile Canteen and programs to Binghamton

Pictured above, Volunteers help serve a Canteen lunch at Clear Path in Chittenango.

Broome County’s 14,370 Veterans and their families have a new option for programs and services focused on holistic warrior care as we have branched into the Southern Tier.

Clear Path for Veterans Southern Tier is an extension of our Chittenango-based non-profit that serves as upstate New York’s Veteran Resource Center for information, programs and resources for active duty, Reserve, Guard, Veterans, and their families.

Clear Path for Veterans is the recipient of Broome County’s Joseph P. Dwyer Peer-to-Peer Veterans Support Program. With an announcement in August 2016 by Sen. Fred Akshar of $120,000 secured in state funding for Broome, the county became the 16th in the state to have its own Dwyer program. This grant program was created to provide peer support to Veterans as a non-traditional and destigmatized social activity, one that is both meaningful and substantive.

Clear Path Southern Tier is staffed by Broome County Peer Support Lead Venecia DeRoose and Community Outreach Worker Zachary Salisbury.

DeRoose is a U.S. Navy Veteran who served seven years on active duty. She has been employed at Clear Path for nearly three years and has a graduate degree in Industrial and Organizational Psychology. She said the new office in Binghamton will mean much greater access to peer support for Veterans.

“(That is an) essential component to the success of the Dwyer Peer-to-Peer programs,” DeRoose said. “Creating access to peer-to-peer social networks for Veterans offers unlimited potential for improving the immediate quality of life of our Veterans and their families. In addition, peer-to-peer support actively seeks to restore the sense of community and comradery that service members perceive as lost when they exit the military.”

The new Clear Path Southern Tier office is located in the County Office Building at 44 Hawley St., Binghamton.

Clear Path Southern Tier will seek to duplicate as many of the current service offerings in Chittenango as possible in Broome County, DeRoose said. One prime example is a mobile Canteen. Inspired by the famous Canteen in North Platte, Neb., during World War II, these lunches are served in a welcoming environment to men and women of all service eras – regardless of discharge status – to enjoy a meal at no cost, generate peer support and renew community comradery.

Prepared by Clear Path’s Culinary Director Adam Coleman, these mobile Canteens will be offered across Binghamton, thanks to generous sponsorship by American Legion Post 80 and the Broome County Veterans Services Agency. The first mobile Canteen will be offered from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 20 at the American Legion Post 80, 76 Main St. Reservations are not necessary.

Veteran Recreation Nights will be held every other Wednesday at Binghamton University in the Undergrounds from 5-7 p.m. The next two events scheduled are billiards on April 5 and bowling on April 19.

Additional upcoming service offerings will include a peer-to-peer substance abuse program, a mobile learning lab to educate senior Veterans about how to use electronic devices such as cellphones, tablets, and computers. A newsletter featuring upcoming events will be published monthly beginning May 1.

Support for Clear Path Southern Tier has come from numerous sources including: Broome County Executive Jason Garner, Veteran Services Agency Director Brian Vojtisek, Director of Purchasing Tyler West, city of Binghamton Mayor Rich David, and Director of Economic Growth and Development Bob Murphy.

“They have worked tirelessly to ensure that Clear Path for Veteran’s transition into Broome County is as smooth and effective as possible,” DeRoose said.

Salisbury is a U.S. Marine Corps Veteran and is currently a senior Philosophy, Politics, and Law major at Binghamton University. He said another person key to Clear Path’s expansion into the Southern Tier has been Zach DuBord, assistant director of Veteran and Transfer Services at Binghamton University.

“In addition to providing academic services to Veterans on campus at Binghamton University, Zach DuBord has worked tirelessly with (BU) President (Harvey) Stenger to improve the overall quantity and quality of services available to the Veterans of Broome County,” Salisbury said. “It’s truly a credit to President Stenger that he has empowered Zach DuBord to identify and aggressively pursue opportunities to improve the campus and the county for our Veterans.

“The willingness of top officials from the county, city, and university to work unilaterally to improve the quality of services available to Veterans will hopefully encourage other counties across the state to do the same. I firmly believe that leading by example is the only way to lead, and it’s safe to say we’ve witnessed that here. In fact, the amount of support that has emerged out of all of Broome County’s senior leadership has been truly astounding, and our staff at Clear Path for Veterans cannot begin to thank everyone enough for their contributions to the cause.”

Clear Path Southern Tier is working closely with key leaders from Broome County to identify the best avenues of approach for providing as many services as possible in the county and eventually across the Southern Tier.

“Our organization is always working on developing and strengthening our relationships with local universities, businesses and organizations to ensure that as many opportunities to empower our Veterans are available as possible,” Salisbury said.

Clear Path’s services are offered at no cost and open to all Veterans regardless of their discharge status; most events are open to family members as well.