C-N Noted as Top Military-Friendly Institution

News Worth Celebrating – Military Advanced Education magazine recently named C-N as a “Top Military-Friendly College.” Celebrating the news are C-N President Randall O’Brien, himself a Vietnam combat vet, and Lieutenant Colonel Rodney Honeycutt, who leads C-N’s ROTC Eagle Battalion.

Carson-Newman has been recognized by Military Advanced Education magazine as one of its “2010-11 Top Military-Friendly Colleges and Universities.”

In just four years since the first guide was published, the special edition “has become an invaluable tool for both Education Service Officers/Specialists and Base Transition Officers when advising their service members about degree and certification opportunities currently available from institutions of higher learning,” according to MAE Associate Publisher Glenn R. Berlin.”

C-N’s student population includes 52 veterans or veteran dependents who receive VA benefits, which include provisions made available by the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Beyond the 25 vets receiving benefits, 27 students who, as children or spouses of veterans, are able to take advantage of changes made to the legislation that allows current service members to transfer education benefits to a spouse or a child.

While such benefits are helping bring students to C-N, retired lieutenant colonel Bob Terrell says the camaraderie of veterans and retirees has been an important part of developing a culture that is winsome to those who have recently left the services.

“I think veterans coming to Carson-Newman find a supportive and helpful environment because we have several faculty and staff members who are veterans,” assesses Terrell, an associate professor of computer information systems who retired from the army in 1995 after a 28-year career. “It’s a built-in support system of sorts because these are folks who are active in various veterans organizations off-campus and have had to deal with veteran health care and education issues in their own lives.”

Terrell said he and colleagues noticed “more and more veterans joining our student population in recent months, so we are working to assist those students who have identified themselves in this category.” He says C-N’s Army ROTC department, the Eagle Battalion, became something of an informal center for networking and establishing personal connections between student vets and faculty/staff mentors.

Since then, students, faculty and staff members with military experience have chartered a new campus organization, VETS (Veterans, Eagles, Teachers, Students). The group, says Terrell, “is still in the growth and recruiting stage, but it has already gained the membership and support of most of the faculty and staffers with military backgrounds.”

VETS was founded by a married couple, John and Sarah McIntear, both of whom served in the U.S. Navy. They moved to Jefferson City after Sarah’s research found C-N fit her goals for a Christian institution with an excellent nursing program that also offered a graduate nursing degree. John says he thinks C-N and the military are a good fit.

“The military equips men and women to be able to grow into servants and leaders at the same time,” says the double major in religion and history. “Carson-Newman has that very same mentality. They take servants as students and mold them into servant leaders. I just think it blends so well; it makes an easy transition from serving country to serving God.”

Terrell says he expects the group to grow in numbers and significance because VETS is beginning to connect through on-campus programs and outreach programs with off-campus organizations like the American Legion, AMVETS and VFW. The draw of C-N’s Eagle Battalion is important, says Terrell, noting, “As the cadets walk across campus in uniform, the students who are vets come up and introduce themselves, and the relationship goes from there.”

C-N’s School of Nursing and Behavioral Health, in conjunction with the College’s Army ROTC program, has been recognized as the country’s leading producer of nurses who join the military upon graduation. Presently, 24 of the Eagle Battalion’s 72 cadets (33%), are nursing majors who will join the military when they graduate. The program’s success has obtained Army recognition as a Nursing Center of Excellence for Education, say Eagle Battalion officials.

Second Lieutenant Adriel Schmitt, who earned his BSN degree from the program last May, was selected as one of the top four of nursing graduates in the county. The Nixa, Missouri native was the leading graduate in the Seventh Brigade, which comes under the U.S. Army Cadet Command Fort Knox and includes Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee.

C-N’s ROTC program, which will celebrate its 40th birthday this year, offers courses that develop leadership and management skills for both military and civilian careers. The Eagle Battalion provides qualified students opportunities to serve their country full or part time as officers in the US Army. Students who meet specified qualifications can earn a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the US Army, Army National Guard or the US Army Reserve. The Ranger Challenge Team attends annually a regional, multi-state intercollegiate competition of physical stamina, leadership ability and teamwork.

John McIntear believes there is added benefit to having mentors with armed service experience.

“The military teaches a certain core of respect for those who have come before us to defend freedom and democracy. The fact that this campus really is packed with military veterans and their dependents makes my job so wonderfully easy,” he says.