Fort Jackson’s Commanding General and U.S. Army Reserve Ambassador
open new social and education facility for America’s heroes
(Columbia, S.C.) MTC officially opened its new Veterans Success Center March 16 for service members and veterans to connect and network. It is a campus hub for veterans in terms of outreach and community resources. The center will also be the home for the college’s VetSuccess on Campus counselor.
“Veteran centers on college campuses make a positive impact on student veteran success,” said Midlands Technical College President Dr. Ronald L. Rhames. “Since many veterans commute to school, have jobs, or juggle other responsibilities, having a place on campus to connect with other veterans and resources can be instrumental.”
As the largest provider of veterans educational benefits to service members and their families in the Palmetto State, MTC enrolls more than 1,000 veterans, their dependents, and other military personnel annually. MTC is the only college in South Carolina designated as a VetSuccess on Campus Center by the United States Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
“Walking onto a college campus after leaving the military can be a disorienting experience for student veterans,” said Rhames. “This center is not only a relaxed area for veterans to network, but it also is a hub for services including information on veterans education benefits, employment information and assistance, and referrals to community resources.”
One student veteran, Master Sgt. Emma Anderson, agreed with Rhames. After serving in the Army for 24 years, Anderson is now an MTC Accounting student graduating in May with plans to transfer to the University of South Carolina’s Darla Moore School of Business. She said her success in school has been grounded in how much Midlands Technical College cared about her and her needs as a veteran.
“When I first met with my Veterans Service Officer on campus, her first questions were, ‘how is your family, how are you, and what can we do to make sure that you are an academic success?’ That went a long way for me because I was transitioning from the military and walking into something new.”
The Student Veterans of America and The Home Depot Foundation awarded MTC nearly $9,000 as part of a Vet Center Initiative grant to help MTC create the Veterans Success Center. Midlands Technical College was one of only 50 colleges nationwide awarded funding for such a project.
All of MTC’s academic degrees, diplomas, and certificates, and 23 Corporate and Continuing Education programs are approved for veterans educational benefits. MTC hosts a Military Services Office where a member of the Army National Guard provides information about military programs and educational benefits to prospective and current MTC students, and assists military personnel and their families transition into higher education.
The AC Flora Junior Army ROTC Color Guard presented the colors for the opening ceremony of the center. Major General John P. (Pete) Johnson, Commanding General of the U.S. Army Training Center and Fort Jackson, and retired Maj. Gen. George Goldsmith, the U.S. Army Reserve Ambassador for South Carolina, helped dedicate the MTC Veterans Success Center.
“We very much believe that continued education and higher education along many paths is absolutely important to the health of the Army community,” said Johnson, “but it also really continues to set our veteran teammates up for success as they go on whatever path they have chosen.”
Midlands Technical College and Fort Jackson have a long-standing partnership. MTC has an established Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Defense to provide higher education courses to active duty military personnel. For more than 30 years, MTC has provided an education office at Fort Jackson, where on-post courses are offered to active duty military personnel, their families, and the Fort’s civilian workforce.
“We really believe that the U.S. Army is aligned with (Midlands Technical College),” said Johnson. “We try to inspire a culture of lifelong learning. It begins, for many of our soldiers, right here at Fort Jackson in basic training, but really, it continues. Our mission is to train and develop soldiers, non-commissioned officers and officers, and that learning begins with the lighting of the torch of learning. Midlands Technical College really supports all of that. It provides an avenue of approach for all of our teammates to seek higher education.”
MTC recently established the MTC Veterans Advisory Council of community and military leaders, MTC faculty, administrators, and students to advance services to MTC veterans and their families. Additionally, the college has a robust Student Veterans Organization whose representative serves on the Student Advisory Board, the student governance organization of the college.
To increase its commitment to veterans, Midlands Technical College established a MTC Veterans Success Initiative to help veterans have a successful academic experience and productive college life at MTC. A goal of the MTC Foundation is to raise several million dollars to fund additional projects, programs and services within the Veterans Success Initiative.
Rhames said he is fully invested in all of the college’s military partnerships, and MTC is committed to serving prospective, active, and past members of the armed services.
“We are here today to celebrate the military,” he said, “and to recognize the importance of providing higher education and support services to military families and veterans.”