Category Archives: Veterans

Pellissippi State certified as a veteran-friendly campus

The state recently certified Pellissippi State Community College as a “VETS Campus,” in acknowledgment of the institution’s efforts to ensure veterans experience a successful transition from military service to college enrollment.

“This designation is important because it recognizes Pellissippi State’s commitment to educating our men and women who have served in the military,” said Rachael Cragle. Cragle is Pellissippi State’s Advising director. She also is project director of the grants that help fund a number of the college’s student veteran support projects, including the Ben Atchley Veterans Success Center.

“This certification validates all of the work that Pellissippi State has done to establish our Veterans Success Center and to provide support for our student veterans,” said Cragle.

The certification is part of the Tennessee Veterans Education Transition Support (VETS) Act, which was passed into law earlier this year. The VETS Act recognizes colleges that not only deliver services to veterans but also “create a supportive environment where student veterans can prosper while pursuing their education.”

Pellissippi State opened the Ben Atchley Veterans Success Center one year ago this Veterans Day (Nov. 11) to provide space for veterans to gather, study, and relax, as well as to have access to advising and mentoring services.

The college provides pre-enrollment services—such as test preparation and help with benefits—through a partnership with the Veterans Upward Bound Program at the University of Tennessee.

The school communicates with its student veterans through email from enrollment to graduation and beyond, with the goals of improving retention rates and identifying situations that might require intervention. Pellissippi State offers veterans credit for military and other career experience through prior learning assessment, or PLA.

The college’s outreach programs to veterans are funded in part by a $37,982 Tennessee Access and Success Network grant and a three-year, $98,000 Tennessee Board of Regents Access and Diversity grant. Community partners include the Knoxville Rotary Club, the East Tennessee Military Affairs Council, and other non-profit and support groups.

For more information about Pellissippi State’s efforts to help student veterans succeed, visit www.pstcc.edu or call (865) 694-6400.

Pellissippi State honors veterans with week’s worth of events

Pellissippi State Community College serves one of the largest veteran populations of any Tennessee community college. In the week leading up to Veterans Day, Nov. 11, the college will host a series of events in honor of veterans—particularly student veterans.

“Student veterans often have unique challenges when entering or returning to school,” said L. Anthony Wise Jr., Pellissippi State president. “Some of our Veterans Week events are geared toward helping student veterans overcome those challenges, and some of our events are meant to celebrate their service and the service of all veterans.”

A focal point in the week is a presentation by Capt. William Robinson, Vietnam veteran, former prisoner of war and author of “The Longest Rescue.” Robinson speaks 11-noon Wednesday, Nov. 5, at the Ben Atchley Veterans Success Center on the Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road.

The schedule of events, all at the Hardin Valley Campus:

  • Tuesday, Nov. 4:
    • Flag-raising ceremony at 9 a.m. outside the Goins Building, featuring Rolling Thunder Chapter 3, an organization dedicated to publicizing the search for prisoners of war and those missing in action
    • Suicide prevention presentation, 3:30-4:30 p.m. in the Ben Atchley Veterans Success Center, to include information about prisoners of war and soldiers missing in action
  • Wednesday, Nov. 5:
    • “Missing Man” ceremony at 10:45 a.m. in the Ben Atchley Veterans Success Center, featuring Rolling Thunder Chapter 3
  • Monday, Nov. 10:
    • Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6598, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. in the Goins Building Rotunda, to share what the VFW does to help veterans
    • “MASH” screening, noon-2 in the Goins Building Auditorium
  • Tuesday, Nov. 11:
    • Heroes’ Breakfast, 7:30-9 a.m. in the Goins Building Cafeteria Annex to honor all of Pellissippi State’s student veterans
    • Cake and punch, noon-2 in the Goins Building Rotunda

For more information about these events or Pellissippi State programs, visit www.pstcc.edu or call (865) 694-6400. To request accommodations for a disability, contact the executive director of Human Resources at (865) 694-6607 or humanresources@pstcc.edu.

Pellissippi State opens Ben Atchley Veterans Success Center Nov. 11

Pellissippi State Community College celebrates the grand opening of the Ben Atchley Veterans Success Center on Veterans Day, Monday, Nov. 11, with a ribbon-cutting and dedication ceremony. The community is invited to attend.

The ceremony begins at 3 p.m. in the courtyard outside the Educational Resources Center, where the new facility is housed. The Ben Atchley Veterans Success Center is located on the Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road.

The dedication will be attended by Pellissippi State student veterans, area dignitaries and elected officials. The Veterans Success Center’s namesake, Ben Atchley, an early and longtime supporter of Pellissippi State, also will be present.

Atchley, who was born in Knoxville in 1930, served in the U.S. Naval Reserves–Seabees (Construction Battalion) for 10 years, 1948-58. He was elected to the state House of Representatives in 1972, then to the Senate in 1976, where he served for 28 consecutive years. He retired from the Legislature in 2004.

The Ben Atchley Veterans Success Center will centralize veteran-related services—including tutoring, mentoring, advising, financial assistance and job placement services—at a single location. The facility plans to serve an estimated 125 veterans each year.

“We’re trying to provide an additional layer of support to an important group of students, and a growing group of students, who are returning to college after service in Iraq or Afghanistan,” said L. Anthony Wise Jr., Pellissippi State president.

“We want to provide the best possible environment for them to learn and grow while they’re here at Pellissippi State.”

Pellissippi State hopes the Veterans Success Center also helps increase retention among student veterans.

Statistics indicate that more than 88 percent of veterans using the Post-9/11 GI Bill abandon higher education pursuits after the end of their second semester of college, and only 3 percent graduate. Feelings of isolation are said to be a major contributing factor to veterans’ dropping out.

“The Veterans Success Center will offer not only the ‘formal’ network of support these students need,” said Ted Lewis, vice president of Academic Affairs, “but it will also provide them with an informal network through which they can work together, socialize and share common interests.”

The Ben Atchley Veterans Success Center was funded in part by grants from the Tennessee College Access and Success Network and the Tennessee Board of Regents Office of Access and Diversity.

For more information about the Veterans Success Center, call (865) 694-6400 or visit www.pstcc.edu. To request accommodations for a disability, contact the executive director of Human Resources at (865) 694-6607 or humanresources@pstcc.edu.

Pellissippi State uses grants to open Veterans Success Center

A Veterans Success Center is well on its way to opening at Pellissippi State Community College, thanks in part to grants from the Tennessee Board of Regents and the Tennessee College Access and Success Network.

The new center is expected to serve about 500 military veterans, reservists, and family members and will bring many of Pellissippi State’s veteran-related services into a centralized location on the Hardin Valley Campus.

“We’re trying to provide an additional layer of support to an important group of students—and a growing group of students—who are returning to college after service in Iraq or Afghanistan,” said L. Anthony Wise Jr., Pellissippi State president.

“We want to provide the best possible environment for them to learn and grow while they’re here at Pellissippi State.” The college serves more than 500 veterans who use the GI Bill each year, accounting for about 5 percent of the student population.

Pellissippi State is providing staff and equipment to the Veterans Success Center with the help of a $37,982 Tennessee College Access and Success Network grant. A three-year, $98,000 TBR Access and Diversity grant brings in additional funding for veterans support, including supplemental educational opportunities through tutoring and workshops.

With the assistance of the grants, Pellissippi State hopes to increase student veteran participation and enhance veteran persistence in completing higher education degrees.

Through the new facility, an estimated 125 veterans each year will receive graduation-focused support. The students also will have access to tutoring, mentoring, advising, financial aid assistance, job placement services and a fully equipped study lounge. Internship opportunities with local, veteran-owned businesses will be available through a partnership with the Tennessee Veterans Business Association.

But the center plans to play another, at least as important role in supporting student veterans.

Statistics indicate that more than 88 percent of veterans using the Post-9/11 GI Bill abandon higher education pursuits after the end of their second semester of college, and only 3 percent graduate.

Feelings of isolation are said to be a major contributing factor to veterans dropping out.

“The Veterans Success Center will offer not only the ‘formal’ network of support these students need,” said Ted Lewis, vice president of Academic Affairs. “It will also provide them with an informal network through which they can work together, socialize, share common concerns.”

Among veterans attending college now, most take advantage of either the Post-9/11 GI Bill (Chapter 33) or the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program. A majority of those using the Post-9/11 GI Bill are younger combat veterans who have served within the last 10 years.

To be eligible for VRAP, veterans must be between the ages of 35 and 60, unemployed and ineligible for assistance from any other VA education program. Typically, a large number from both programs are low-income, first-generation college students.

For more information about the Veterans Success Center or other programs and services offered by Pellissippi State, call (865) 694-6400 or visit www.pstcc.edu.

Pellissippi State recognizes veterans during Civic Engagement Week

Pellissippi State Community College is placing special emphasis on veteran fellowship and veteran strength with a planned Civic Engagement Week Sept. 10-17.

“Civic Engagement Week is about promoting a culture of altruism among our students. This year, the focus of Civic Engagement Week will be on veterans and their families,” said Cat Carr, AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer for Pellissippi State’s Service-Learning program.

“With nearly 100,000 troops home from Iraq and another 30,000 expected home from Afghanistan in the next year, it is crucial that communities understand the reintegration obstacles that veterans and military families face.”

On Pellissippi State’s Hardin Valley Campus, the week opens with “The Things We Carry: What War Does,” featuring guest speaker L. Caesar Stair III, a Vietnam veteran. The presentation is free and open to the public. It takes place in the Goins Building College Center 12:30-1:15 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 10.

On Wednesday, Sept. 11, Pellissippi State faculty, staff and students pause for a moment of silence beginning at 9:03 a.m., as they remember the events of Sept. 11, 2001. Following the activity, guest speaker Clyde Luttrell, also a Vietnam veteran, delivers a brief address in the Courtyard.

Residents of the Ben Atchley State Veterans’ Home are on campus 10-11 a.m. Friday, Sept. 13, in the Courtyard for a meet-and-greet. Therapy dogs from HABIT (Human-Animal Bond in Tennessee) also will be on hand.

Pellissippi State’s Service-Learning students join others participating in Knoxville Stand Down for Homeless Veterans on Saturday, Sept. 14, at the National Guard Armory, 3300 Sutherland Ave. The special community service event, part of a nationwide support movement, provides area homeless veterans with clothing and other services.

Pellissippi State replays a recent “Dialogue” WUOT radio talk show broadcast that features Rachael Cragle, the college’s director of Advising, among others, in a segment dedicated to supporting veterans in East Tennessee. The replay is at 12:30 p.m. in the Goins Building Cafeteria Annex, Monday, Sept. 16.

Civic Engagement Week on the Hardin Valley Campus wraps up Tuesday, Sept. 17, with a special Constitution Day observance featuring Ron Bridges. Bridges, an associate professor in Natural and Behavioral Sciences at Pellissippi State, talks of veterans’ sacrifices as they uphold the U.S. Constitution. The presentation is 12:30-1:15 p.m. in the Goins Building Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public.

The Blount County Campus observes the National Day of Service and Remembrance at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 11, by the campus’ flagpoles. The event recognizes veterans and their service and includes an introduction to Service-Learning.

The Division Street Campus kicks off the week on Tuesday, Sept. 10, 10-11 a.m. in the Student Lounge, by providing students with the opportunity to learn more about volunteerism and electoral participation.

The campus marks the National Day of Service and Remembrance at 8-9:30 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 11, in the Student Lounge. Students can attend “Protecting Our Financial Future” at 11 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. in Room 118. “Celebrate Our Veterans” is 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Monday, Sept. 16, and Constitution Day is observed all day Tuesday, Sept. 17. Both events are in the Student Lounge.

The Magnolia Avenue Campus hosts its third annual Call to Service Volunteer Resource Fair 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 11. The event introduces students and faculty to 35 agencies with community service opportunities and volunteer programs. The campus also hosts SunTrust Bank for a Finances 101 workshop Tuesday, Sept. 10. Three sessions are available: 9:10 a.m., 12:25 p.m. and 2 p.m. Topics include debt-free living, money management, retirement, investments and emergency preparedness, among others.

Students at the Strawberry Plains Campus have an opportunity to serve as part of a cleanup crew for the East Tennessee State Veterans Cemetery the week before Veterans Day (Nov. 11). They can sign up for the service project during Civic Engagement Week as well as throughout fall semester.

For more information about Civic Engagement Week events, contact Pellissippi State’s Service-Learning program at (865) 694-6492 or visit service-learning@pstcc.edu. To request accommodations for a disability, contact the executive director of Human Resources at (865) 694-6607 or humanresources@pstcc.edu.

Pellissippi State’s Veterans Support Committee hosts Wounded Warrior staff

Many East Tennesseans know Pellissippi State Community College’s reputation for supporting and enrolling one of the largest student-veteran populations in the state. It’s a reputation that, in fact, has made its way to troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

They also may know the Wounded Warrior Project, respected for its role in helping injured service members recover from the trauma of war.

Now WWP and Pellissippi State are looking for ways to assist one another in helping veterans as they transition from combat zone to classroom to employment.

“Collaborating with WWP would give our students access to and awareness of a network of support resources they may need,” said Ron Bridges, Faculty Senate president. “This can only help their success as students. It will also give all of our students an opportunity to get involved in supporting a great organization and engaging in community actions.”

Pellissippi State’s Veterans Support Committee hosted WWP staff members at the Hardin Valley Campus on Dec. 12. The committee includes representatives from the college’s administration, faculty and staff.

The discussion covered several areas of common interest and mutual concern, including transitioning to the classroom, employment, academic preparedness and community engagement.

Tiffany Daugherty and Kayla Avery, staff members at WWP’s new regional office in Nashville, came to campus for the meeting. The new WWP office opened in October, and its staff has spent a lot of time traveling the state, reaching out to organizations that serve veterans.

“Our main focus is to let the veterans know that we are here,” said Daugherty. WWP offers more than 18 programs and services to veterans and their families. To learn more, visit www.woundedwarriorproject.org.

To find out more about the resources available to veterans through Pellissippi State, go to www.pstcc.edu/financial_aid/veterans or call (865) 694-6400.