Memory of the SSMAC of New York City
The club’s mission states: Serving the men and women of our Armed Forces since 1919 – the club served me in my transition out of the military
I have a strong connection between my transition out of the military and the The Soldiers’, Sailors’, Marines’, Coast Guard and Airmen’s Club (SSMAC) in New York City. Located on Lexington Avenue between 36th and 37th Streets, the SMAC wonderfully represents the strong connection NYC has to the uniformed services.
I first visited the SSMAC in 2005 during a 15-day rest and relaxation leave from Iraq. It was October which is the best time of year in NYC. The idea was to get some personal time before visiting my family in Pennsylvania.
I was informed about the SSMAC by an Army buddy. He described the club as a hostel for military — except different than a backpacking hostel. The place is for military only and free of the negative attributes we normally associate with hostels. The price, $30 at the time, makes NYC accessible and provides a central location in Manhattan. Over four days I was able to explore midtown, the village, the financial district and many other neighborhoods — all within walking distance. A run in central park was particularly memorable.
The SSMAC itself is full of antiques and memorabilia — items that remind a visitor of the rich traditions and relationship NYC has with the military. Visitors normally share a room with one roommate and the bathroom is down the hall. My roommate was a Vietnam veteran, there are also many visitors from foreign services too. It makes for a full day when you have a nice conversation with your roommate, tour around the city, use the lounge to research some activities and then go back out to explore the city.
Over the years I would return to the SSMAC three or four times. The facility afforded me a great introduction to the city — helping me decide to attend school on the GI Bill starting in 2009. The SSMAC made the dream of making it in NYC possible. After school, studying visual design and web development, I landed a job at J.P. Morgan in my new chosen career.
I would like to find a way to support the SSMAC, it is a great institution. Its mission creates an accessible experience for current service members, separating service members and long-time veterans. It helps many find their way between military service and civilian culture. It’s a place that feels closer to a home, bridging the two worlds together.