Military & Veteran Affairs
VETERANS WEEK AT TECH
Since the first one in 2018, Veterans Week has now become a much-anticipated annual event on the Tennessee Tech campus. This week-long event is organized by the department of Military and Veteran Services, and features a variety of events to honor and celebrate our veteran students, faculty, and staff.
Veterans Week 2022 will take place from November 7 to November 11. More information to come very soon.
Student Veterans at the Center of Tech's Veterans Week Celebrations
(Adapted from a TN Tech News article dated November 8, 2021)
When Benjamin Iles graduated from high school in Wilson County, he decided to follow his family’s footsteps and serve his country in the United States Marine Corps instead of going to college. Six years later, Iles has the opportunity to pursue a college degree.
Iles is a freshman at Tennessee Tech, majoring in wildlife and fisheries in hopes of becoming a park ranger one day.
“Tech was familiar to me because my sister went here and I knew that they had a good wildlife program that would help me pursue a different career,” he said.
Iles is one of the many veterans on Tech’s campus who will be honored during a Veterans Day ceremony on Thursday at 11 a.m. in front of Jere Whitson Building. Sponsored by the Office of Military and Veterans Affairs, the ceremony will be a part of a week of events which include veteran appreciation day on Monday, a Student Veteran Organization versus ROTC kickball tournament on Tuesday, celebration of the Marine Corps 246 birthday on Wednesday and a R.E.D. out day on Friday.
Iles spent his active duty in the Marines as a sergeant assigned to be an Embassy Guard for three years. Where he was stationed in Austria, Myanmar and Zimbabwe.
“It was a very eye-opening experience,” Iles continued. “I had the opportunity to travel a lot and experience different cultures that are very different from the United States.”
After active duty, Iles began preparing for life after the military, he was accepted to Tech and immediately started corresponding with Tech’s military and veteran affairs office on how he could get connected.
“The office was very helpful, and they had everything in a concise format for me. They helped me be set up for success and not mess anything up.”
Setting veterans up for success is what Mary McCaskey, director of financial aid and veterans affairs, and her staff do on a regular basis.
“The success of our student veterans is important to me because they have sacrificed so much and were willing to do the job that so few Americans choose,” McCaskey said. “To give them a sense of comfort and advocacy as they begin this new chapter in their lives helps ease their mind and provides a solid foundation and connection knowing they have someone in their corner truly wanting to help them succeed.”
Iles said that making the transition from military life to college life was difficult at first after having been out of school for a while. He said that the military has helped him have the self-discipline he needs to be successful in college. He encourages other veterans to pursue a college degree at Tech after leaving the military.
“I definitely recommend coming to Tech because it is small enough to where you feel very close to everything, and it is a place that has helped me make the transition to this next stage of life,” Iles said.
*** More photos from Veterans Week 2021 coming soon. Please continue to monitor this page! ***
Veterans Week 2020
November 9 through November 13, 2020
Despite the many challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, Veterans Week 2020 featured a full schedule of events honoring our student veterans, faculty, and staff. Here are photos from some of the highlights of that week, which began with a ceremony in front of the Jere Whitson Building to commemorate Veterans Day.
NOTE: CDC guidelines were observed during all campus activities.
Veterans ceremony kicks off Veterans Week on Tech campus
(Adapted from a Tech Times article published on Friday Nov 8, 2019)
When Travis Williams graduated from Upperman High School in 2011, he decided to serve his country in the United States Army instead of going to college. Eight years later, Williams has the opportunity to pursue a college degree.
Williams is a freshman at Tennessee Tech, majoring in legal studies in hopes of becoming a lawyer someday.
“Tech has always been an awesome school and very military friendly with great programs,” said Williams, a native of Buffalo Valley. “I wanted to come here. It’s close to home.”
Williams is one of many veterans on Tech’s campus who will be honored during a Veterans Day ceremony on Monday at 9 a.m. in front of the Jere Whitson Building. Sponsored by the Office of Military and Veteran Affairs, the ceremony kicks off a week of events which include Veteran Appreciation Day on Tuesday, a student-veteran block party on Wednesday, a Student Veteran Organization versus ROTC kickball tournament on Thursday and a campus service day on Friday.
“They probably aren’t as comfortable being recognized, but our department feels like it’s important for the university and the campus to get an idea of how many student veterans we have on campus,” said Mary McCaskey, Director of Financial Aid and Veteran Affairs. “It’s important to highlight them and recognize them for their service.”
Williams will be one of the guest speakers during the veteran’s ceremony. An active member of the national guard, Williams spent his active duty in the Army at Fort Campbell and Fort Hood with tours of duty in Germany, Kuwait and Syria.
“Some days it was a blessing. Some days it was a curse or bittersweet,” said Williams. “I loved it. Absolutely, loved it. It was some of the best days of my life and best friends I’ve ever met and some of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had.”
While on active duty, Williams began preparing for life after the military, corresponding with Tech’s Military and Veteran Affairs office about enrolling.
“I had to work with the office while I was at Fort Hood, Texas and I was stressed,” said Williams. “Not with them, but with worrying about missing deadlines. They were super helpful. I didn’t miss one deadline. They set me up for success.”
Setting veterans up for success is what McCaskey and her staff do on a regular basis.
“We are like a one-stop shop for them. They usually see us before they have even applied to the university,” said McCaskey. “We see them from a recruitment standpoint, helping them to be successful throughout their time here in college.
“We help them through the transition from military to civilian life,” McCaskey continued. “We help dependents with the G.I. Bill and with any sort of VA benefits. We even help with FAFSA and financial aid.”
Williams said that making the transition from military life to college life was difficult at first after having been out of school for so long. Even though he is the oldest “freshman” in his classes and has a lot of different life experiences than the other students, he encourages other veterans to pursue a college degree at Tech after leaving the military.
“Don’t hesitate to reach out to the veterans affairs department at Tech,” said Williams. “They go above and beyond to help you out, especially if you are like me and don’t know anything. If you need help, just reach out.”
Veterans Day ceremony kicks off week-long celebration
(Adapted from an Upper Cumberland Business Journal article published on November 6, 2018)
Tennessee Tech’s office of Military and Veteran Affairs, in conjunction with the ROTC and the Student Veteran Organization, held a Veterans Day ceremony on campus Monday morning.
Students, faculty, staff, administrators and members of the military were on hand in front of Derryberry Hall to honor veterans.
After the posting of the colors and the playing of the national anthem, Joseph Roberts of the United States Navy and interim director of the school of professional studies gave the invocation.
Speakers during the ceremony included Mary Benedict, Director of Military and Veteran affairs; LTC Adam Grim, professor of military science, Tech Golden Eagle Battalion; Tech president Phil Oldham; student veteran Derrick Sarmiento of the United States Marine Corps; and Putnam County archivist Glen Jones.
The Veterans Day ceremony concluded with a cannon salute for the Armed Services, as well as a service medley and Retiring of the Colors.
“I was pleased and thankful for each of our speakers today and felt that that each did a fantastic job of touching on an important theme related to the 100th year of the end of World War I,” said Benedict. “The music performed by the TTU Brass Arts Quintet made the event all the more special. Our ROTC department did a beautiful job presenting our colors as well as making sure our canon salute went off without a hitch. They are always there to help support our Military and Veteran Affairs events and we appreciate them.”
The event is the first in a week-long celebration to commemorate Veterans Day on Nov. 11.
“This event would not have happened without the help of my team and our student veteran organization,” said Benedict. “They were instrumental in the planning and success of this day. This ceremony was a kickoff for a very special week of events we have planned to honor those brave men and women who have served in uniform. We look forward to all of the ways our campus will show their support this week.”
Events the rest of the week include the student veteran organization having a service day at Tech’s child development lab on Tuesday, a veterans appreciation day on Wednesday, the Student Veteran Organization taking on ROTC in kickball and corn hole on Thursday, and a traditional Marine Corps birthday celebration on Friday. Veterans Week 2018 will wrap up with a Veterans Day picnic at Cane Creek Park on Sunday.