Congressman Brian Higgins named local residents to serve as members of his service academy advisory committee. The panel recently met to interview students applying to a military academy and make recommendations to the congressman. Service academy appointments are made by the president of the United States based on congressional and/or military recommendations. Each service academy ultimately decides which nominees will be accepted into each program.
"Each year, we receive applications from exceptional students from across the district, and this year was no exception," Higgins said. "We are grateful to the members of our service academy panel who have served this nation with distinction, currently serve this community, and have graciously volunteered to be a part of this process."
The following Western New York residents were named to Higgins panel:
•Geoff Szymanski, U.S. Navy machinist who served during the Gulf War, and is mayor of the City of Lackawanna.
•Anthony Caruana, retired brigadier general with the United States Army, who served during the Vietnam War. He is a retired teacher and the supervisor in the Town of Tonawanda.
•Tom Higgins, former Erie County Sheriff and U.S. Marine Corporal who served during the Korean War.
•Patrick Cunningham, United States Army colonel with 30 years of service and long-time director of the Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park.
•Jim Otwell, lieutenant colonel in the United States Army, who served in Afghanistan. He is a Buffalo Fire Department lieutenant.
•Darin Schulz, U.S. Navy lieutenant, serving for six years, and current executive director of the faculty student association at SUNY Fredonia.
•Jordan Then, United States Marine Corps captain who served in Iraq, recruiting support officer for the Marine Corps. He is a supervisor with the U.S. Border Patrol.
•Jerry Irving, retired commander in the U.S. Navy with 26 years of service. He is the director of human resources for Moog's Space and Defense Group
•Heidi Reisman has 25 years of active duty with the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserves. She is a bioenvironmental engineer and mother of seven sons (including two currently serving in the U.S. Army).
•Sean Bunny, infantry officer with the U.S. Army who served during Operation Iraqi Freedom
•James Montgomery, U.S. Army captain and graduate of West Point who currently works as a senior sales representative with Eli Lilly.
For more information on service academies, visit Air Force Academy www.usafa.edu; Military Academy at West Point www.usma.edu; Naval Academy www.usna.edu; Merchant Marine Academy www.usmma.edu; and Higgins' website www.higgins.house.gov; or call the congressman's office at 716-852-3501.