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Congressman Brian Higgins (third from left) with members of his service academy advisory committee. (Submitted photo)
Congressman Brian Higgins (third from left) with members of his service academy advisory committee. (Submitted photo)
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Higgins announces service academy advisory committee


Wed, Dec 1st 2021 12:40 pm

Accomplished panel of local veterans reviews high school students seeking highly competitive academy placement

Congressman Brian Higgins named six local veterans to serve on a service academy advisory committee. The panel recently met to interview local high school students applying to one of the U.S. service academies and to recommend those deserving of a nomination.

“Each year, service academy nomination interviews provide us with an excellent opportunity to meet some of the most exceptional students from across Western New York, and this year is no different,” Higgins said. “We thank the members of our Service Academy Advisory Panel who graciously volunteered their time to meet with the next generation of military leaders.”

Students applying for enrollment in the U.S. Air Force Academy, U.S. Military Academy at West Point, U.S. Naval Academy, or the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy are required to seek a nomination from a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Senate or the vice president. The final decision about which students are admitted to each academy rests exclusively with the admissions office at the individual academy.

The following Western New York veterans, who have served as leaders in the military and in the community, agreed to serve on this year’s panel:

•Dr. Patrick Welch enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps at age 17 and served in the Vietnam War. He was a longtime business owner, served as Erie County director of Veterans Services, founded the Center for Veterans Services at Daemen College, works as a mentor in Buffalo’s Veteran Treatment Court and helps lead the Community Veterans Engagement Board.

•James Montgomery is a U.S. Army captain, member of the 82nd Airborne Division and graduate of West Point. He served four years in the 82nd Airborne Division, and is airborne, ranger, air assault, jumpmaster and senior parachutist qualified. Montgomery works as the director of partnerships at Pathway Vet Alliance.

•Heidi Reisman is a lieutenant colonel and graduate of the Air Force Academy. She has more than 25 years of active-duty service with the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserves. Reisman currently works as a bioenvironmental engineer and is the mother of seven sons, including two serving in the U.S. Army.

•Peter Goodman is a U.S. Naval Academy graduate who served as a surface warfare officer and was deployed five times during his seven years in the U.S. Navy. He worked at Corning Inc. before earning his MBA from Harvard Business School, and today works in M&T Bank’s enterprise security division.

•Kathleen A. Garver graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 2001. She served as a logistics officer with the 21st Transportation Corps in Mannheim, Germany, and then with the 10th Mountain Division Sustainment Brigade located at Ft. Drum, following the completion of the Army’s captain’s career course. Garver is currently a special agent with the FBI and is assigned to the Buffalo field office working white-collar crimes, including serving as the office’s election crime coordinator.

•Randy Garver is a 2000 graduate of U.S. Military Academy and served as an infantry officer. He deployed six months to conduct peace support operation in Kosovo and 12 months for combat operations in Iraq. Garver is currently an FBI agent.

In September, Higgins hosted a virtual Service Academy Night to provide high school students, parents, school administrators, teachers and counselors with the opportunity to learn more about the institutions, programs and nominations process. The full video of the event can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pFseCWhvCAc

Enrollment at a U.S. service academy includes a commitment to military service and offers an education with leadership training. Students graduate achieving a military officer rank. For more information about service academies, visit the websites for the 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) or Higgins’ office (www.higgins.house.gov); or call the congressman’s office at 716-852-3501.

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