Revival of Rutgers Veterans Programs Began in Camden

From left: Bill Brown Jr. CCAS’11, RLAW’14; Agustin Bruno CCAS’12; Mary Beth Daisey, vice chancellor for student affairs; Bryan Adams SBC’12; and Fred Davis, director of the Office of Military and Veterans Affairs.

On his first day at Rutgers–Camden in fall 2007, Bill Brown Jr.—a Navy SEAL who had served three overseas deployments, including one in Iraq—and a fellow student-veteran took note of the Greek banners hanging in the Campus Center. “We joked that we should start up our own veterans group,” Brown said. Carpooling home later that day, Brown and his friend, Iraqi war vet John Cosby CCAS’09, continued the discussion, brainstorming about possible group names. “John said we should call it Veterans for Education, and it kind of stuck,” Brown said.

With that, a movement was born. Student-veterans formed a club and began to meet. The following spring, Brown organized and completed a 65-mile ultra marathon from Rutgers–Camden to Rutgers–New Brunswick to raise money for a scholarship for veterans and to publicize veterans issues. “It got a lot of people’s attention,” said Brown, an attorney with McCarter & English in Newark who earned a bachelor’s in political science and a law degree.

Brown soon bonded with Bryan Adams, a fellow student and former Army sniper who was shot twice in Iraq and earned a Purple Heart before starting school at Rutgers–Camden. Brown, Adams, and other student-veterans, including Agustin Bruno, a Camden resident and Spanish major who served in the Army in Iraq, met regularly with each other and the administration. The group also organized events, including hosting a congressional debate.

The advocacy efforts resulted in the creation of a campus staff position to assist veterans. The progress in Camden resonated throughout the Rutgers system, which expanded services for veterans universitywide. “Rutgers–Camden was definitely the pioneer,” said Adams, a marketing graduate who is assistant director of the Rutgers Office of Veteran and Military Programs and Services in New Brunswick.

 

Posted in: 2020 Spring, On Campus

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