April 12, 2018

Inaugural SUNY Empire Class Inducted into SALUTE Veterans National Honor Society

Nine members of the inaugural SALUTE class, from left, Andrew Smith, Raul Rodriguez, Juan Nicholson, Teri Tompkins, Nicholas Lee, Elissa Greene, Brandon Dearborn, Douglas Sherman and Bryant Smith, took the induction oath.
Nine members of the inaugural SALUTE class, from left, Andrew Smith, Raul Rodriguez, Juan Nicholson, Teri Tompkins, Nicholas Lee, Elissa Greene, Brandon Dearborn, Douglas Sherman and Bryant Smith, took the induction oath.

(SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - April 12, 2018) Seventy-six active-duty military and veteran SUNY Empire State College students and alumni have been inducted into SALUTE Veterans National Honor Society. Representing all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, they are the first from SUNY Empire to be inducted into SALUTE.

Nine of the college’s veteran and active-duty members of the military participated in an induction ceremony held Saturday, April 7, at the Desmond Hotel and Conference Center in Albany, N.Y.

They are: Brandon Dearborn, of Friendship, N.Y., U.S. Marine Corps; Elissa Greene, Newburgh, N.Y., Marines; Nicholas Lee, Liverpool, N.Y., Marines; Raul Rodriguez, Bronx, N.Y., U.S. Navy and Air Force; Douglas Sherman, Fort Johnson, N.Y., New York Army National Guard; Andrew Smith, Rochester, N.Y., Air Force; Bryant Smith, Latham, N.Y., Marines; and Teri Tompkins, Saugerties, N.Y., Marines.

“Each one of these SUNY Empire scholars will forever be members of our SALUTE chapter and role models for the student veterans that follow," said Joseph L. Garcia, a retired lieutenant colonel, 28-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force and executive vice president for administration at SUNY Empire, who provided the keynote address.

"As our inaugural class, they have also set the bar high for our chapter, which promises to promote the achievements of our student veterans now and in the future,” said Garcia. “Higher education and military service, combined, create a powerful combination for an individual. Taken together, these two experiences produce a leader ready to make a difference in the world. Congratulations to all of our inductees.”

Of the college’s inductees, 61 are veterans, nine are on active duty and six serve in the Guard or Reserves. Sixteen serve, or have served, with the Air Force; 33 with the Army; three with the Coast Guard; 12 with the Marines; and 12 with the Navy.

Areas of study for SALUTE inductees include Community and Human Services, Cultural Studies, History, Literature, Political Science, Accounting, Business, Management and Economics, Computer Science, Counterterrorism and Intelligence Analysis, Criminal Justice, Emergency Management, Nursing Education, Science, Math and Technology, Security Management and several others.

Inductees are completing, or have completed, their Associate of Science, Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Professional Studies, Master of Arts, Master of Arts in Liberal Studies, Master of Science in Nursing Education and the MBA.

Nearly 1,100 veteran and military students are currently enrolled with SUNY Empire. Only Jefferson County Community College, located less than 20 minutes from Fort Drum, N.Y., home of the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division, educates more military students at a single campus within SUNY.

Through the efforts of the college’s Office of Veteran and Military Education, SUNY Empire became a chapter of SALUTE in May 2017. Selection criteria for induction into SALUTE include personal conduct and academic excellence for both undergraduate and graduate students, including military service and current conduct, honorable discharge and maintenance of the highest ethical standards.

Academic criteria for undergraduate students include a 3.0 minimum GPA. At the undergraduate level, SALUTE ranks GPA in 25 decimal point ranges in four distinct tiers:

  • 3.75 - 4.0, alpha tier
  • 3.5 - 3.74, bravo tier
  • 3.25 - 3.49, charlie tier
  • 3.0 - 3.24, delta tier.

Academic criteria for graduate students include meeting personal and academic criteria to be classified SALUTE Gold Members. There are no GPA tiers for graduate students. Academic criteria for graduate students include a 3.5 minimum GPA, successful completion of a minimum of 12 credits at SUNY Empire State College and good financial standing with the college.


SALUTE was founded in 2009 by the Colorado State University Veterans Office, thanks to a grant by the American Council of Education and WAL-MART Foundation. SUNY Empire is one of 200 chapters of the society, established to highlight the combination of academic excellence and service to country that so many military students show.