UT Martin receives 'VETS Campus' designation
Contact 1: Nathan Morgan
MARTIN, Tenn. – Dozens of university faculty and staff, community members and veterans joined state officials Friday as the University of Tennessee at Martin was named a Tennessee Veterans Education Transition Support Campus, one of 20 Tennessee institutions to hold this designation from the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC).
The event, held at 10:30 a.m. in the Boling University Center’s Duncan Ballroom, followed the university’s annual Memorial Day commemoration ceremony.
The Tennessee Veterans Education Transition Support Act, passed into law in 2014, established this program of recognition for higher education institutions that not only prioritize outreach efforts for veterans, but successfully deliver services necessary to create supportive educational environments where student veterans can prosper. The “VETS Campus” title is a special designation given to those institutions that allocate resources to assist veterans with the transition from military service to college enrollment.
Johnny Dyer, UT Martin veteran services coordinator, offered remarks on the importance of services for veterans on college campuses. Dyer spoke of his own experience after enrolling at UT Martin following his military service. While he did well his first semester, even making the chancellor’s honor roll, Dyer faced the same challenges that so many other veterans face on a daily basis. “I felt isolated; I had adjustment issues; I suffered from PTSD. I was working a full-time job, supporting a family and was just too proud to ask for help,” Dyer said. This ultimately lead to him leaving UT Martin to continue his career with Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company in Union City.
After Goodyear closed its doors in 2011, Dyer returned to UT Martin. It was then he met Dr. Alice-Catherine Carls, Tom Elam Distinguished Professor of History, and together the pair founded the Skyhawk Veteran’s Association. In addition to Dr. Carls, Dyer also thanked many others at UT Martin who helped make the VETS Campus designation possible, including Dr. Keith Carver, UT Martin chancellor.
“Support at this university comes straight from the top. Dr. Carver has been outstanding … not only to the student veterans, but to everybody here,” he said.
Dr. Carver also offered remarks, highlighting what the honor means to UT Martin. “We want our nation, our states, and our region’s veterans to know that we want them here, and we want to assist them in obtaining their degree,” Carver said.
“Above all we know the extraordinary sacrifices made by you our service men and women, and want everyone to know that we have gone through transformational changes on this campus to bring the things that are necessary to create a veteran-friendly environment for your transition, and for your growth and your matriculation at UT Martin,” he said.
Carver closed, “With the help of the funding from the competitive Veteran Reconnect Grant, this is going to help prepare us … for the future as a university and recruit even more student veterans to ease their transition to the campus and see them through to graduation. And folks, that’s the right thing to do.”
Following Carver’s remarks, Sen. Mark Norris, (R-Collierville), a sponsor of the Tennessee Veterans Education Transition Support Act of 2014, offered his remarks.
“UT Martin is well known as one of West Tennessee’s leading military friendly universities … it adds to that distinction today, officially, as Tennessee’s 20th VETS campus,” Norris said.
“So, while history is made here today, it’s not the past, it’s the future to which we look. For those who helped us keep the peace, we work to keep the promise that your future holds. Today UT Martin officially becomes the state of Tennessee’s partner in this important work, and we welcome it, and we welcome you,” he said.
The program concluded with the presentation of the VETS Campus designation certificate by THEC officials Tom Morrison, assistant executive director of Veterans Education, and Mitch Currey, educational specialist for Veterans Education.
For more information, contact the Office of University Relations at 731-881-7615.
PHOTO ID: Pictured at the VETS Campus designation program are (l-r) Mitch Currey, THEC educational specialist for Veterans Education; Johnny Dyer, UT Martin veteran services coordinator; Tom Morrison, THEC assistant executive director of Veterans Education;
Dr. Keith Carver, UT Martin chancellor; and Sen. Mark Norris, (R-Collierville).