(Marietta, Ga. – April 7, 2014) With a growing number veterans enrolled in classes at Chattahoochee Technical College, a new student organization is being formed to represent this group. It is estimated that 498,427 veterans and service members used the Post-9/11 GI Bill in 2012, while almost 90 percent of those student veterans are over 25-years-old.
“This is a growing segment of our student population,” explained Chattahoochee Technical College Communication and Veteran Services Coordinator Barry Munday. “Our student veterans not only have strong work ethics and military experience but come to Chattahoochee Technical College with a diverse background of skills and abilities we can help augment with classes to develop a great career.”
Munday said an average of 500 student veterans are enrolled in classes at Chattahoochee Technical College each semester. One such student, Mark Kennedy of Atlanta, recognized the need for the college to have its own chapter of Student Veterans of America (SVA).
Kennedy, who is working on his second associate degree, said he was unaware that such an organization existed until he participated in the National Night Out activities in Canton. At the event he ran into someone wearing an SVA t-shirt and began a conversation. Inspired by the organization, he began working with other students at Chattahoochee Technical College and learning from representatives from other colleges with their own SVA chapters.
“To me it is about veterans helping other veterans,” Kennedy said. “It is helping that man or woman who is just now returning home and has to worry about a job, a place to live, taking care of family, and even school. Those of us already in school can help by letting them know about college life, classes and programs, services available and resources and benefits they may not know about.”
SVA is a 501(c)(3) coalition of student veterans groups on college campuses across the globe. These member chapters are the “boots on the ground” that help veterans reintegrate into campus life and succeed academically. Each chapter is an officially recognized student group by their university or college, and provides a peer-to-peer network for veterans who are attending the school. Additionally, chapters coordinate campus activities, offer pre-professional networking, and generally provide a touchstone for student veterans in higher education.
SVA has over 950 chapters nationwide and a few abroad. The size of these student groups vary by school, from as small as three, to as many as 100 members. SVA chapters are open to all those committed to creating supportive veteran campuses. Groups are comprised of pre- and post-9/11 veterans, civilians and military dependents.
Chattahoochee Technical College chapter of SVA will be meeting for the first time April 15 at the Marietta Campus in Student Life. In more evidence of support for the military, the Technical College System of Georgia recently announced Col. Patricia M. Ross, currently the vice-commander of the 78th Air Base Wing at Robins Air Force Base in Warner Robins, Georgia, will fill its position of director of military affairs starting in August.
Ross is retiring after a 25-year career in the Air Force and will lead the TCSG initiative aimed at increasing education and job training opportunities for current and former military personnel and their family members. The goal is to provide them with full access to the TCSG colleges and programs that will assist in their successful transition to civilian jobs.
Technical College System of Georgia Commissioner Ron Jackson said Ross will be an influential liaison between the 24 TCSG colleges and the branches of the military, as well as a strong advocate for the men and women who have served their country, including their dependents.
“Col. Ross impressed me not only with her dedication and leadership during her long career with the U.S. Air Force, but also by her strong desire to work on behalf of all who have been a part of our nation’s armed forces. As the TCSG director of military affairs, she will help us raise the bar to a level that’s above anything that’s been done so far to meet the higher education, training and career development needs of active duty and former military personnel and their dependents. We are committed to our nation’s heroes and their family members and will prepare them for the jobs that they deserve in Georgia’s highly skilled workforce,” said Jackson.
Ross will be assigned to the TCSG headquarters in Atlanta until the state opens a new veterans’ gateway center in Warner Robins. Last year, Governor Nathan Deal and the General Assembly committed $10 million for the one-of-a-kind educational and professional development facility for active duty and transitioning military personnel and their families on 44 acres of land directly across from Robins Air Force Base. Groundbreaking for the 50,000 square-foot center is expected in the fall of 2014.
The University System of Georgia and the Technical College System of Georgia are partners on the project that will provide the military and their family members with assistance with education, credit transfer, training and job placement. The center currently has the working name of Georgia Military and Academic Training Center.
For more information on Chattahoochee Technical College and its programs, visit www.ChattahoocheeTech.edu or call 770-528-4545.