On Military and Veterans: At the Heart of Middle Georgia

Over the past two weeks, Middle Georgia State has welcomed thousands of students across our five campuses. As we get into the rhythm of a new academic year, we renew our focus on student success. Faculty clarify expectations, staff provide services, and students—whether formally in our Student Success Centers or informally in the groups that organically form around class discussions and co-curricular activities—begin to support one another as peers.

When we look at how we participate in Complete College Georgia, an effort designed to prepare our population for the 60% of jobs that will require a post-secondary credential by 2020, it becomes important to identify and meet student needs. For one group in particular—veterans and military families—Middle Georgia State is not only bolstering what we do to meet needs on campus, but we are now on the cutting edge of how our nation goes beyond simply saying “thank you for your service” to the hundreds of thousands of families that bear the brunt of multiple deployments around the world.

For students at MGA, we created a new Office of Veteran and Military Services. So far, the office has provided Green Zone Training to more than 130 faculty and staff, including 35 who serve as sponsors or mentors to our military and veteran students. These sponsors have personally reached out to nearly 390 students who identify as veteran or military, helping them register for the right classes and stay on track toward graduation. The Executive Director of that office, Dee Lindsey, has personally met or spoken with some 155 students since April, providing information related to admissions, certification and Veterans Administration benefits.

That new office has found its home at our newest location—the Georgia Veteran Education Career Transition Resource (VECTR) Center at Middle Georgia State University. In collaboration with our colleagues at Central Georgia Technical College, the Georgia Department of Veterans Services and Department of Labor, and vocational rehabilitation at the Veterans Administration, we assist veterans entering higher education and the civilian workforce. A partnership between the University and Technical College Systems of Georgia, VECTR provides onsite coursework, career counseling, educational coaching, and workforce training.

VECTR is not only a first-of-its-kind center, it is vital to the future of this state. As our military draws down after the longest protracted conflict in our history, an estimated 2.3 million veterans will enter the civilian workforce. Georgia ranks 5th in the nation for active duty military (nearly 70,000 members), 5th for female veterans (more than 90,000), and 9th overall for veterans (more than 750,000). Yet, for a number of reasons, less than 50% of veterans are using their GI Bill benefits.

Today’s military are highly disciplined professionals. As VECTR’s Executive Director, Col. Trish Ross (USAF Ret.), put it in a recent column, we “will help guide this tremendous human talent into a growing economy, benefiting veterans, employers, and the state.”

Located in Warner Robins, just over a mile from Robins Air Force Base and our Warner Robins campus, VECTR opened its doors on August 2. In its first three weeks of operations, VECTR has already served nearly 870 veterans and military families—more than one every 10 minutes!

We are excited and proud of what the future holds for veterans and military families at Middle Georgia State. If you want to be a part of this effort, there are three simple steps you can take:

  • If you are a faculty or staff member (including student workers) who has not yet completed Green Zone Training, do so by watching the video online today;
  • If you know a veteran or military family who needs help navigating higher education in Georgia, tell them about VECTR; and
  • If you are a veteran or member of the military interested in starting or continuing your education at Middle Georgia State, come to one of our information sessions at VECTR—the first one is September 15 and our first onsite class (Intro to Logistics) begins October 10.

Nearly 1 in 10 of our new students this semester identify as veteran or military. Together, we will help them—and many thousands of prospective students seeking to transition from military to civilian careers through the state’s 51 institutions of higher learning—become a phenomenal success story.

Georgia VECTR Center at Middle Georgia State University
Georgia VECTR Center at Middle Georgia State University