Gov. Bill Haslam today announced the formation of a task force to evaluate how to best serve Tennessee's veterans seeking a certificate or degree beyond high school.
The task force is charged with the following:
* To identify common educational hurdles for transitioning veterans;
* To research best practices to serve student veterans;
* And to make recommendations on improving opportunities for veterans to earn a certificate or degree beyond high school.
"When the men and women who have served our country come home, we want them to be able to get a high quality, good paying job," Haslam said. "Earning a certificate or degree beyond high school is an important part of that process.
"Over the last several years, enrollment of veterans in Tennessee colleges and universities has more than doubled," Haslam continued. "While cost is often a barrier for many students to post-secondary education, that isn't usually the case for veterans due to federal grants and other scholarship support. We need to be better understand what unique obstacles veterans face in completing their education, and work with them to overcome those obstacles and graduate."
Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder will chair the task force, and other members include:
* Dr. Mary Lou Apple, president, Motlow State Community College
* Randy Boyd, special advisor to the governor for Higher Education
* Brian Gard, director of emergency management, University of Tennessee
* Sen. Dolores Gresham, chairman, Senate Education Committee
* Sean Martin, student representative, Middle Tennessee State University
* Rep. Gerald McCormick, majority leader, Tennessee House of Representatives
* Linda Mullins, VA education counselor, Belmont University
* Dr. Rich Rhoda, THEC Executive Director
* Dr. M. David Rudd, provost, University of Memphis
The task force is part of the governor's "Drive to 55" initiative to raise the number of Tennesseans with a certificate or degree beyond high school from where it stands today at 32 percent to 55 percent by the year 2025.
The committee will engage a variety of stakeholders including higher education leaders, veterans, advocacy groups, and will present recommendations to the governor in June 2014.