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Pictured, from left: Randy Garver, Patrick Welch, Jeff Burhart, Peter Goodman, Congressman Brian Higgins, Kathy Garver, Lt. Col. Colby Krug, Jerry Irving and Jim Montgomery. (Submitted)
Pictured, from left: Randy Garver, Patrick Welch, Jeff Burhart, Peter Goodman, Congressman Brian Higgins, Kathy Garver, Lt. Col. Colby Krug, Jerry Irving and Jim Montgomery. (Submitted)

Higgins announces service academy advisory panel


Fri, Dec 8th 2023 03:55 pm

Veteran officers provide guidance to next generation of military leaders

Congressman Brian Higgins named eight local veterans to serve on a service academy advisory committee. The panel met Dec. 3 to interview local students applying to one of the United States service academies and to recommend those deserving of a nomination.

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, U.S. 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.

“Our service academy panel – many of whom have served in this capacity with us for years – are not only advisers to our office, but they serve as an example and mentor to the next generation of military officers from Western New York,” Higgins said. “We are grateful for their service to our country and community, and we are impressed with the incredible group of young people pursuing this path to service.”

The following Western New Yorkers volunteered 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; former 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.

•Jerry Irving: A retired U.S. Navy commander with 26 years of service and a U.S. Naval Academy Blue and Gold Officer, Jerry now serves as vice president for human resources and marketing for Moog’s Space & Defense Group.

•James Montgomery: A United States Army captain, member of the 82nd Airborne Division, and a 1991 graduate of West Point, James was deployed for combat missions in Haiti in 1994. For more than 20 years, he has worked in the pharmaceutical sector, currently in the veterinary health business.

•Jeffrey Burhart: A 2002 Air Force Academy graduate who earned his MBA at the University of Massachusetts, the former Air Force captain and contracting officer now serves as a sergeant with the New York State Police.

•Peter Goodman: A 2007 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and a 2017 graduate of Harvard Business School, Peter was deployed five times as a surface warfare officer during his seven years in the United States Navy. Today, he is a product manager at Wilmington Trust, as well as a volunteer firefighter.

•Kathy Garver: A 2001 West Point Graduate who served as a logistics officer in United States Army, Kathy went on to work for the Buffalo FBI and then as an assistant vice president in complex investigations at M&T Bank. 

•Randy Garver: A 2000 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point. Following graduation from Ranger School, he was assigned to the 1st Infantry Division in Germany and served as a rifle, scout, and reconnaissance platoon leader before several assignments as a staff officer. His deployments include a peacekeeping mission in Kosovo and combat operations in Iraq. Today, Randy works for the FBI.

•Lt. Col. Colby Krug: Current commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Buffalo District, overseeing land and water resources across 38,000 square miles within the Great Lakes region. His deployments include Operation Iraqi Freedom and three tours of service during Operation Enduring Freedom.

On Oct. 3, Higgins hosted a service academy information session at Williamsville South High School to provide high school students, parents, school administrators, teachers and counselors with the opportunity to learn more about the institutions, programs, and nominations process.

Higgins’ team said, “Enrollment at a U.S. service academy includes a commitment to military service and offers an exceptional education with leadership training. Students graduate achieving a military officer rank.”

For more information about 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; Higgins’ website www.higgins.house.gov; or call the congressman’s office at 716-852-3501.

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