The Journey Home Project, co-founded by country music legend Charlie Daniels, donated $50,000 to help equip the new Veterans and Military Family Center at MTSU. The money was raised at the 40th Anniversary Volunteer Jam, which took place on Aug. 12 at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena.
"We owe them an unpayable debt of gratitude," said Daniels while celebrating at his 79th Birthday Bash Tuesday night. "We can never, never do enough for our veterans."
The 2,600-square-foot center, will be located on the first floor of Keathley University Center at the local university.
More Information on the Center:
MTSU will celebrate the dedication of the center at 10 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 5, highlighting a busy fall semester for student-veterans. The public and MTSU community are invited.
At the second Graduating Senior Stole Ceremony Wednesday (Aug. 5) in the Tom H. Jackson Building's Cantrell Hall, university President Sidney A. McPhee unveiled renderings for the proposed facility, providing facts and the need for the center.
"This center will open in November, just before Veterans Day and our Salute to Armed Services football game this November," McPhee said. "And it will be largest and most comprehensive veterans center among Tennessee universities."
McPhee added the center "will be a place for our student-veterans to study, to gather and to get help from fellow veterans, who will serve as peer advisers and sponsors."
Provost Brad Bartel shared the academic component for the center. Keith M. Huber, senior adviser for Veterans and Leadership Initiatives at MTSU, talked about the impact the center will have on student-veterans.
The renovated 2,600-square-foot center will be located on the first floor of Keathley University Center. The university has committed $329,000 toward the project.
"This center will provide a specifically detailed awareness and direct access to the complex and often-confusing system of the federal Department of Veterans Affairs," Huber said.
The center will occupy space formerly held by the Disability and Access Center, the first VetSuccess on Campus office in Tennessee and the Military Center. The Tennessee Board of Regents approved the name change to Veterans and Military Family Center in early July.
Nearly doubling in size from its former space, the center will address a number of needs: financial aid and academic advising, and more.
The Disability and Access Center will be moving to the newly remodeled KUC Testing Center.
"It will be a singular location where everything they need for success will be available, from scheduling courses and completing government paperwork to answering questions concerning benefits and employment opportunities," said Huber, who retired as a lieutenant general from the U.S. Army after nearly 40 years on active duty as an infantry and Special Forces officer.
The center will have distinctive space for discussions, study sessions and will be staffed by fellow student-veterans, who will serve as peer advisers and sponsors. There will be a conference room for video teleconferencing and employer job interviews.
Huber credits McPhee's vision for recognizing the need for the center and "providing essential resources, combined with his personal leadership, to demonstrate a significant commitment," he said.
The university named Hilary Miller, a military spouse, center director earlier this summer. She will lead an experienced staff, as well as VA employees Heather Conrad with VetSuccess on Campus and Ray Howell, Veteran Affairs coordinator.
While the renovation is in progress, personnel will temporarily move to the Midgett Building and Kirksey Old Main. Miller's office will be in the James E. Walker Library. Someone will sit at a table outside the area being renovated and direct student-veterans to the person they need to see.
The MTSU Veterans and Military Family Center
- Name: Veterans and Military Family Center
- Location: First floor of Keathley University Center
- Director: Hilary Miller
- Size of facility: 2,600 square feet
- MTSU financial commitment: $329,000
- MTSU student-veteran population: 1,000 (includes family members)
- Center features: Conference room, five office spaces, adviser workspaces, student computer area, reception area, lounge area, kitchenette
- Move-in date: Monday, Oct. 19 (tentative)
- Dedication time/date: 10 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 5