Nashville State & Southwest Tennessee community colleges earn VETS Campus certification. Eleven Tennessee community colleges now VETS certified

Nashville State & Southwest Tennessee community colleges earn VETS Campus certification

Nashville State Community College and Southwest Tennessee Community College have earned certification as Veterans Education Transition Support (VETS) Campuses, designating their supportive environment and services to help veterans successfully transition from military service to college.

Colleges achieving VETS Campus certification have demonstrated that they prioritize outreach to veterans and deliver services that help them succeed in pursuing their educations. The program was established by the Tennessee General Assembly in 2014 with passage of the Tennessee Veterans Education Transition Support Act and is administered by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC).

THEC awarded VETS Campus Certifications to Nashville State and Southwest Tennessee in late June, increasing the number of VETS-certified Tennessee community colleges to 11. The others are Chattanooga State Community College, Cleveland State Community College, Columbia State Community College, Dyersburg State Community College, Jackson State Community College, Northeast State Community College, Pellissippi State Community College, Volunteer State Community College, and Walters State Community College.  

The goal is for all 13 public community colleges to achieve VETS certification, said Dr. Robert Denn, associate vice chancellor for academic affairs and veterans services officer at the Tennessee Board of Regents, which governs the College System of Tennessee’s community and technical colleges. “Veterans and their families live in every county in Tennessee. Our community colleges have about 180 teaching locations across the state, and we are committed to providing exceptional support and educational opportunities to those who have served so selflessly – no matter where they call home,” Denn said.

A total of 27 Tennessee colleges and universities are certified as VETS campuses, according to THEC.

Officials at Nashville State and Southwest Tennessee said they are proud that their colleges have earned the certifications recognizing their support for veterans.

“We have been intentional about carving out learning spaces inside and outside the classroom to help our veteran scholars not only adapt to college life, but also thrive and achieve their academic goals,” Jacqueline Faulkner, Southwest’s vice president of student affairs, said. “We hope this prestigious designation will serve as a beacon to veterans who are seeking to transition to civilian life in rewarding careers. Our academic programs and wrap-around student supports are designed to help prospective students like our country’s veterans succeed at Southwest and beyond.”

Three years ago, Southwest’s Veteran’s Affairs and Veterans Student Organization established the Veterans Support Center. The center provides veterans with the resources, support and advocacy they need to succeed in higher education and beyond.  The VETS program extends that outreach and assistance, from easing the enrollment process to helping veterans adapt to a new college environment. Throughout the 2020 academic year and spring semester 2021, the center has helped more than 460 enrolled veterans integrate into college life.

In Middle Tennessee, “Nashville State is intentional in making sure our military veterans, reservists, and those on active duty have the support they need to flourish at the College and beyond,” said Dr. Carol Martin-Osorio, Nashville State’s vice president of student affairs and enrollment management. “Beyond direct veteran support, Nashville State provides laptops, food and transit assistance, along with academic advising and peer-to-peer mentoring.”

This past spring, 63 degrees and technical certificates were awarded to 44 Nashville State graduates who used VA education benefits, such as the GI Bill. That number does not include other graduates who used other earned military-related benefits like Go Army Ed, MyCAA, and Tennessee STRONG.

“From the moment I first reached out to Nashville State until the time I graduated, all of my questions were answered, and I was supported and encouraged to not only succeed but to engage with the College and assume a leadership role,” said 2021 graduate and U.S. Army Sgt. Joe Moore, who earned a Computer Information Technology A.A.S. degree with a concentration in Systems Administration & Management. During his time at Nashville State, Moore served as attorney general of the Student Government Association.

In addition to its other provisions, the Tennessee VETS Act specifies that to qualify for the VETS Campus designation, institutions must:

  • Conduct an annual campus survey of students who are veterans to identify the views, needs, issues and suggestions of veterans.
  • Provide information to faculty and staff about military and veterans’ culture, including combat-related mental or physical disabilities or other challenges.
  • Administer orientation programs for students who are veterans.
  • Facilitate mentoring and support programs for students who are veterans.
  • Develop outreach and communication strategies for military bases located near the campus, for the purpose of assessing veterans’ educational goals and meeting their identified needs.
  • Create and maintain a process for the assessment of prior learning that grants academic credit to veterans for transferable training and experience attaining through military service.
  • Provide, on the campus website, information on the availability of prior learning assessments and potential program credit for skills, training or education obtained during military service.

 

Resources: 

For more information about Veterans Affairs at Southwest, contact VA Coordinator Kristina King at kking1@southwest.tn.edu or call 901-333-4029.

For more information about Veterans Affairs at Nashville State, please contact VA Support Specialist Gwendolyn Falin at vetcom@nscc.edu or call 615-353-3211.

For more information about Veterans Educational opportunities in Tennessee, including the VETS Campuses program, visit the THEC website at https://www.tn.gov/thec/bureaus/academic-affairs-and-student-success/veterans-education.html

For more information about Veterans Services at the College System of Tennessee, visit the TBR website at https://www.tbr.edu/student-success/veterans-and-military-families-support

To read about the first Chancellor's Commendation for Military Veterans at the College System's institutions, created as a system-level award to honor the service, bravery and sacrifices of military veterans in the campus communities: https://www.tbr.edu/news/chancellors-commendation-military-veterans-helps-honor-veterans-tennessee%E2%80%99s-community-technical

The College System of Tennessee is the state’s largest public higher education system, with 13 community colleges, 27 colleges of applied technology and the online TN eCampus serving approximately 140,000 students. The system is governed by the Tennessee Board of Regents.