Letter to the Editor: Veterans Deserve Better

Armando Grundy-Gomes

“I will see what I can do and/or I am looking into it.”

This is the poison of choice that I have constantly received from University of North Florida President David Szymanski, his administration, and this institution for the past 19 months. And after those 19 months, there has been all talk and no action. As a disabled veteran who struggles everyday with many afflictions, having this institution refuse to help me or allow me to have any disability accommodations is JUST WRONG!

During that time here are some examples of what has taken place:

Keeping a disabled veteran from having simple and reasonable accommodations like having a desk and chair during their classes should be routine. But making a disabled veteran wait for over 9 weeks in the fall semester and 7 weeks in the spring semester, IS JUST WRONG!

Not having a desk and chair in the classroom in 85 percent of my classes, caused me great harm because of my disabilities due to my military service, led me to have 6 incompletes and lose my financial aid and funding I was entitled to. And that is also JUST WRONG!

The President’s purposeful lack of action caused me great harm with the loss financial aid and funding, which led me to lose housing and become displaced (homeless) and that is JUST WRONG!

Having a tenured professor verbally attack a disabled veteran in the classroom and refuse to allow them to have any disability accommodations, is also unacceptable….and that is JUST WRONG!

Disabled Veterans have the option like any disabled student to register with the Disability Resource Center (DRC) on campus. I took full advantage of that process and made sure that I was registered in order to receive services or so I thought. For the record, the DRC staff and Director (Dr. Rusty Dubberly) have been one of the very few allies on campus trying to help, and I thank them.

Unfortunately, because of the President and his staff’s lack of action and inability to effectively communicate has both complicated and prolonged the matter and that is not ok, and it is JUST WRONG!

But there is great news for David Szymanski and his band of pirates in the administration and that is they can correct this by making me whole and restoring the $10,000 of lost financial aid they directly caused. Further, they can correct this by addressing any and all faculty and administrators who violated Federal Law by having training, updating and modernizing all policies and procedures. Because as of 2019 the President and his administration (including direct staff) have chosen a path of sloth-like passivity.

Disabled Veterans deserve actionable results and not empty promises. So far David Szymanski chooses to stay in a state of flux; however, it is my desire to see a preferred amicable resolution to this entire matter. And I am amenable to discussing other issues as well.

Serving in the United States Army I risked my body and my life to protect Szymanski’s rights, freedoms and way of life and I hope he would have the decency to do the same for others. We are still waiting!

*Armando Grundy-Gomes, is a Disabled Veteran of the United States Army who served Honorably and a Senior at the University of North Florida.