Change of command makes way for new vision and direction
For the first time since its inception two years ago, City’s Veterans for Peace club will be under new leadership this semester.
Navy veteran Maria Mustacchio is the new president of the club, and Army veteran Bryce Schierenbech will serve as vice president.
VFP’s former president and founder Maurice Martin created the club in the 2010 spring semester and has been presiding over it ever since. Martin intended for the club to serve as a brotherhood for veterans new and old alike to share their experiences, heal and help each other.
After four semesters of leading the organization Martin felt it was time to bring in fresh faces that could better represent City’s population of student veterans.
“It was time for new leadership, new vision and direction,” said Martin. “My intention has always been to create an opportunity for other students to take a leadership position.
“At the same time I wanted it to be more current to attract more women, and attract more Afghanistan and Iraq veterans.”
According to Martin, roughly 900 of the 18,000 students at City are veterans, 40 of which are members of VFP. Of those 40 Mustacchio is the only female.
Increasing women representation was a driving factor for Mustachhio’s appointment. She and Martin hope her involvement will help break the stigma of the organization of being an all boys club.
“Having a veteran woman in a key leadership role will let women know that a veteran organization is here and we welcome them,” said Martin.
Martin met Mustacchio through Amikas, an organization that provides housing aid for homeless veterans and was also co-founded by Martin. Both he and Mustacchio were members of the board of directors.
During her 15 years in the Navy, Mustacchio served as a hull technician repairing ships. Throughout her service she deployed to many different parts of the world, including Beirut, Somalia, and multiple countries in Europe, as well as serving in the Gulf War.
She was discharged honorably as a petty officer second class and is majoring in labor studies.
Mustacchio’s vision for the club is aligned with Martin and she hopes
to increase awareness about the organization and what it offers.
“We want to bring veterans in and let them know we are here to help them and that they have a place to go,” said Mustacchio.
Schierenbech served in the Army as a military policeman initially, then with Special Forces. During his service he deployed to both Afghanistan and Iraq and was discharged in 2005 after seven years.
Schierenbech was acquainted to Martin through a City professor after expressing a plan to create a group on campus to help veterans on their way. At the time he was not aware of VFP.
“When I first came to City College (two years ago) there wasn’t really a whole lot going on as far as veterans,” said Schierenbech. “It was pretty much ‘figure it out as you go along’ and it was really a struggle.
“I really thought it would be nice to have some sort of safety net, or peer program to fall back on.”
With his background as a leader in the Army and desire to help fellow veterans, Schierenbech was a shoo-in for a leadership role in the club. Now he hopes to help alleviate the struggles he was facing as a new veteran on campus.
Together Mustacchio, Schierenbech and Martin continue their effort to make life on campus for veterans easier, and welcome any veteran who wants to be a part of their community.
Veterans for Peace will be holding their next meeting on Feb. 24 in room A-220, anyone is invited to attend.
For more information about the organization email [email protected]