TSU Salutes and Supports Veterans Educational Goals
By J. Michaux
USAF and DESERT SHIELD Veteran
Tennessee State University last year was designated as a Certified Vets Campus. This designation set TSU apart from other educational institutions as a way of committing to supporting the educational goals of Veterans help ease their transition from military service to college life. This is the result of the Tennessee Veterans Education Transition Support (VETS) Act passed in 2014 as an honorary program for state colleges and universities to foster a supportive environment for Veterans.
As Veterans Day 2015 is celebrated on Nov. 11, it is important to understand that obtaining this designation was not a simple feat. In order for TSU to attain this designation, the school had to demonstrate it had the facilities and mentoring programs for Veterans. The university also had to ensure a system was in place for Veterans to receive academic credit for skills and training obtained during military service. TSU was also responsible for ensuring that faculty and staff was educated about Veterans’ culture including combat-related mental and physical disabilities during and after their service.
The population of students that utilize this service are non-traditional students with families that need assistance as they transition to college life. Being in the military gives a service member a sense of closeness, trust and camaraderie. Once a Veteran has enrolled in college and lands in a foreign cultural world of 18-year olds, they are often misunderstood by faculty and feel like outsiders.
The initial ability of the Veteran student to share the fact they are working on a second career is often delayed and/or misinterpreted. Before a student is known to be a Veteran with possible Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and missed educational opportunities because of duties, they are sometimes looked down upon as if they made poor decisions in life. Although discriminatory, this is a common occurrence among Veterans and younger students.
With the evolving landscape of the TSU student body, classmates have no idea if they are sitting beside a military Veteran that killed enemies or witnessed death in the Iraqi wars, lost a loved one to war or an individual that chose to serve their country before seeking a college degree.
This designation is sanctioned by the Tennessee Board of Regents and has support from governmental educational entities such as the Montgomery GI Bill, and the Veterans Administration. There are four federally approved programs for the educational support of Veterans and TSU participates in two of those four initiatives.
Former Army Chief Warrant Officer Brent Warner, of Santa Maria, California; Navy Petty Officer Ayele Tegegne, of Anaheim, California; and Army Staff Sgt. David Potter, of Detroit, all TSU students and junior Mechanical Engineering majors, who served at various times, recognized the need for this service. They came together and formed the TSU Student Veterans Association (TSVA) to extend the educational support and assistance provided to Veteran Students.
Veterans that served during wartime may have invisible and non-invisible wounds of war. The (TSVA) is an exclusive resource only for Veteran students that helps them navigate the maze of financial aid, scholarship opportunities, online classes and mentoring. They also serve as advocates to help university officials further understand the issues that veterans face as non-traditional college students.
For more information on the TSU Certified Vets Program (AWC Campus) call (615) 963-7001.