New PLA position, student center to benefit veterans at Tech
Published Wednesday Jul 19, 2017
Since creating an Office of Military and Veterans Affairs in 2014, Tennessee Tech has been focused on enhancing the college experience for veterans.
The office helps vets and military dependents navigate benefits and the GI Bill while helping provide support with the transition from the military to an academic environment.
“A lot of veterans have transition issues coming back from deployments and back from active duty to being a civilian,” said Ret. Army Sgt. 1st class Kevin Flanary, director of Tech’s military and veteran affairs office. “Generally, they are a little bit older than the students who go to class with them. It’s a little different system than what they are used to. It can cause anxiety and be a little overwhelming.”
The recent approval of a grant to create a Prior Learning Assessment coordinator position and the completion of a veteran student center bring new resources to assist veteran students at Tech.
“In the last three years, we have grown 32.8 percent in our veteran enrollment,” said Flanary. “Although we have a veteran and military affairs office, we don’t have a place that is a gathering spot for them.”
In the newly renovated Jere Whitson Memorial Building, veterans and their dependents will have a place of their own. The Tennessee Tech Eagles Wings Student Center is expected to be open before the fall semester begins on Aug. 28. The 1,028-square-foot center will include computers, printers, a study area and a lounge area. It will also include tutoring and information from disability services, career services, county veterans services and local employers.
“It’s an area they can call their own. They can chill out between classes and don’t have to talk about military stuff. They can just relax,” said Flanary. “We have been pushing hard for it the last few years. It’s just been a matter of finding the space and finding some of the funds.”
While Flanary has been working hard to get donations and funding for the center, a grant recently awarded to Tech will help fund a new position to help vets as well. The Tennessee Higher Education Commission awarded Tech $71,355 of Veteran Reconnect funds which is part of Gov. Bill Haslam’s Drive to 55.
“It’s great. We are thrilled,” said Kim Godwin, director of accelerated degree programs, who applied for the grant. “We are excited about the opportunity this will give to our veteran students. This is something we’ve been talking about for about two years.”
Prior Learning Assessments give adults college credit for their work experience, including military experience. The PLA coordinator will review the transcripts of veterans and be responsible for assisting in the development, implementation and promotion of college-wide PLA initiatives and communications.
“We know it’s a priority for our institution to better serve the veteran population and growing our adult population,” said Godwin. “We are hoping to get someone hired as soon as possible.”
During the 2016-17 academic year, Tech had 220 veterans and 112 students who are dependents receiving veterans affairs benefits. With that number expected to grow in 2017-18, Flanary is hoping the new PLA coordinator and the student center will make Tennessee Tech an even more attractive place for veterans to land.
“I want them to feel like we are taking veterans and their dependents under our wings,” said Flanary. “We’ve improved a lot of processes for vets. We make it easy for them and we want to make their time on campus easy for them as well. My goal is for us to be the number one choice for veterans in the state of Tennessee.”
For more information about services for veteran students at Tech, visit www.tntech.edu/em/military-and-veterans-affairs/student-veterans/.
Student Veterans Week in Tennessee
Published Wednesday Feb 22, 2016
Director of Military and Veteran Affairs at Tennessee Tech University
Governor Haslam has proclaimed February 21-27, 2016 as Student Veterans Week in Tennessee http://tnsos.net/publications/proclamations/files/960.pdf Thank you to our student veterans all across the state for your loyal service, and for choosing Tennessee as the place where you wish to pursue your future. We are honored by your service and humbled by your sacrifice. Several colleges and universities are showing their gratitude and recognizing their veterans in different ways this week. At TN Tech University, we are providing lunch on Wednesday to all of our students who are current active, guard, or reserve members as well as all prior service. It is honestly a very small token of appreciation, but it's our way of saying thank you. I am likely not alone when I say that holidays such as Veterans' Day and Memorial Day should not be recognized once year, but on daily basis. The same goes when it comes to my current post. I am glad that we are formally recognizing our student veterans this week, but rather than thanking and recognizing them for their service, I feel we should be focused on giving them true support every week of the year.
Thank a student veteran this week and every week, it's very easy to do and they'll appreciate it.