Student Veterans Association (SVA) helps veterans transition to college life

The structured and regimented nature of life as an active-duty member in the U.S. armed forces can present a significant adjustment for veterans transitioning to civilian life.

This is where the Student Veterans Association (SVA) comes in—a support network specifically tailored to assist Maryville College’s extensive and tight-knit community of student veterans. According to Laura Reed (‘24), the organization’s vice president, the SVA helps veteran students adapt to college life while also supporting their educational goals.

This year, Veterans Day – coming up on Nov. 11 – falls on the same Saturday as the final home game of the Maryville College football team. The SVA, Reed said, is organizing a ceremony to honor alumni and student veterans at halftime. They are encouraging the MC Pep Band to perform a military medley while these veterans are recognized mid-field. A Scottish color guard dressed in kilts will also be in tow.

According to Reed, who enlisted in the Navy in 2012 and received a medical discharge in 2017, supporting student veterans is a year-round effort. The SVA meets on the first Friday of each month and welcomes all students, regardless of veteran status. The meetings take place in the Military Student Center located on the second floor of Bartlett Hall. 

Reed, a senior pursuing an Art major with a concentration in photography and minors in Marketing and Design, has been a SVA member since 2022. While she acknowledges that military service “may not be for everyone,” she believes in the importance of a support structure for those who do serve and later enroll at MC.

At MC, that support was recently bolstered by the addition of Dr. Jim Getman, the newly hired director of Veteran and Military Services. Getman plans to strengthen connections between veterans and the community. As a “mustang” – the term for an enlisted service member who becomes an officer during his or her time in the military – he has a connection to veterans of all ranks, and his appointment at Maryville College strengthens the school’s support of its veteran population.

According to Josh Nunn (‘27), a first-year SVA member and a former U.S. Army service member from 2012 to 2022, majoring in Business Management with a minor in Health and Wellness, other supportive measures include members of the MC faculty who work with the veteran population.

“Don’t be afraid to switch your career plan,” Nunn advised, reflecting on his initial plan upon enlistment for long-term commitment and subsequent change of direction. After his deployment to Alaska, Afghanistan and other posts, he took advantage of the military’s support for service members pursuing higher education. 

One notable opportunity for veterans is the Yellow Ribbon Program, which covers the difference between the cost of college education and the amount covered by the GI Bill. The East Tennessee Honor Guard also awards an annual scholarship to those who demonstrate leadership abilities and have a commitment to supporting fellow student veterans.

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