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Westfield—On Saturday, April 29, 2017 at 11:30 a.m., Westfield State University will host the official opening of its new Military Community Excellence Center. The new center creates a one-stop shop where veterans, active military members and their families can access, meet and connect with on and off campus service agencies.

According to Lisa Ducharme, the university’s current veteran and military services coordinator and a retired noncommissioned officer in the U.S. Air Force, the comprehensive center is a vast improvement to the semblance of a center previously offered on campus.

“It was critically important to create the center in a way in which it can grow,” said Ducharme, who explained that Westfield State serves approximately 250 military-connected students at any given time. The Military Community Excellence Center is located on the ground level of Bates Hall, centrally and conveniently located on Westfield State’s main campus.

Establishing the center was made possible by $50,000 worth of funding included in the Massachusetts State Budget for Fiscal Year 2017.

“We appreciate the leadership and support of both State Rep. John Velis and State Sen. Donald Humason in advocating for this vital funding,” said Westfield State University President Ramon S. Torrecilha, Ph.D. “Thanks to Rep. Velis, Sen. Humason and other members of the Massachusetts Legislature, a growing number of Westfield State students and their families will have a dedicated space that meets their many needs as they advance their education here.”

President Torrecilha, Rep. Velis, and Sen. Humason will be joined by Massachusetts Secretary of the Department of Veterans’ Services Francisco A. Ureña to provide remarks at the event. Veterans; active duty, guard and reserves; military families; and the campus and local community are all welcome to attend the celebration.

“We are proud to now offer a designated center that meets the comprehensive needs of our veterans,” said President Torrecilha, who explains that Westfield is often cited as a veteran-and- military-friendly university.

Westfield State University received the 2017 Military Friendly School designation from Victory Media, the publisher of G.I. Jobs, and was named a 2017 top school by Military Advanced Education & Transition magazine.

Complementary funding for the establishment of the center has come from a few sources, including the proceeds from the 2016 Holyoke Police Department’s “Manuary” fundraiser.

The center opening is a precursor to National Military Appreciation Month. On Tuesday, May 2, the Military Community Excellence Center will host a 7 p.m. screening of the film “Almost Sunrise” which will be followed by a panel discussion on healing and recovery. The panel will feature veterans and social services professionals. The screening and discussion will be held at Dever Stage in Parenzo Hall. 

To RSVP for the April 29 Military Community Excellence Center opening, visit To RSVP for the May 2 screening and panel discussion, visit