Middle Tennessee State University's senior adviser for veterans and leadership initiatives wants to change the narrative embracing those who have served in the U.S. military.
Keith M. Huber, who served 38 years in the U.S. Army and retired as a lieutenant general, is planning an information-exchange conference titled "Veterans in Motion" for Rutherford County leaders. It will be held Thursday, Jan. 24, at the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau, 3050 Medical Center Parkway, in Murfreesboro.
Huber knows some veterans face homelessness, endure horrific injuries, battle drug and alcohol addictions and many commit suicide. But he's fully aware there's an even larger segment of veterans who are moving on in their lives through education and careers.
Huber plans to invite more than 30 county leaders. His desire is that the session will help veterans find a pathway of continued service in community and business, he said.
"This is an information exchange with the leaders and officials who set the conditions for veterans and their family members to enter the next chapter of their life, still with the desire to continue to serve," Huber said.
"This narrative is for the vast majority of our veterans who are not in a crisis action situation," Huber added. "These are successful, well-established military and their family members who now find themselves in a completely different environment than when they served. ... They seek sources of accurate and unbiased information to describe opportunities not only for them to give back, but for them to enter the community and employer leadership."
In addition to Huber, speakers are expected to include:
• Bill Ketron, Rutherford County mayor and an MTSU alumnus.
• Paul Latture, Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce president.
• Jennifer Vedral-Baron, VA-Tennessee Valley Health Services director, overseeing the Nashville and Murfreesboro VAs and others in Middle Tennessee.
• Mike Krause, Tennessee Higher Education commissioner and a veteran.
• Hilary Miller, director of the MTSU Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center.
Huber also is hopeful a new member of Gov. Bill Lee's team will be able to attend and speak as well.
Viewing a "Veterans in Motion" graphic, which features silhouettes of six veterans walking into their individual futures, Huber becomes realistically philosophic.
"You look at those silhouettes," he said, "and you see very clearly young men and women, sons and daughters of America, mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters of America in uniform along a path of transition through, perhaps, academics and then into the business world."
"These veterans in motion are constantly moving and constantly moving forward, and they're entering the next chapter of their life," he added. "So, this information-sharing conference, this awareness collaboration, is 'veterans in motion' on a path toward continued service."
MTSU's student veteran population is approximately 1,000, which includes family members. They receive strong support from the Daniels Veterans Center.