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Mercyhurst veterans officer named to state panel

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Stacy Smith, veterans service project manager at Mercyhurst University, joins a new task force created by Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor Mike Stack to improve the lives of military veterans statewide.

The 21-member panel intends to bring together public and private resources, information, and strategies to address veterans issues, among them employment, housing, mental health, education and legal.

“Our goal is to talk with veterans, identify the most serious issues they deal with in their daily lives, and see how we can improve the services they are receiving. Once we find areas of need, we’ll develop recommendations for Governor Wolf and the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs,” said Stack in a news release. In forming the panel, Stack asked former state Adjutant General Wesley Craig to serve as chairman.

Smith, meanwhile, said she is honored to be named to the group and to serve as chairman of the higher education committee, where she aims to make a positive difference in the lives of all veterans.

At Mercyhurst, she works with more than 100 service men and women, assisting with educational pursuits, but also with many other issues, key among them employment.

“Many come to me to because they want help finding jobs,” Smith said, adding that unemployment among veterans is higher than the national rate for the civilian population.

Smith said the panel will consider ways in which to brings veterans’ services together under one umbrella. In terms of higher education, she said she is hoping to establish an affiliation among Pennsylvania colleges and universities to ensure they are representing veterans’ needs uniformly and in the best possible way.

Smith has held her current position at Mercyhurst since 2013, when she graduated from the university. Before college, she served for nine years in the U.S. Army, including two deployments to Iraq.

Besides Smith, Kyle McChesney and Rob Wood of Erie County also serve on the 21-member panel.

PHOTO: Stacy Smith, at center front, with Lieutenant Gov. Mike Stack to her left and former state Adjutant General Wesley Craig at right.