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MTSU’s Daniels Veterans Center leaves impres...

MTSU’s Daniels Veterans Center leaves impression on senator

Kwantisha Avila, right, a sophomore criminal justice major from Austin, Texas, shares about her student-veteran life and that of a former U.S. Marine sergeant to Keith M. Huber, left, U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn and John Clement, field director in Blackburn’s office, during a Friday, June 21, visit to MTSU. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn visited Middle Tennessee State University’s Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center for the first time Friday, June 21, to gain better understanding of how veterans transition to becoming successful students, graduate and become productive citizens in the workforce.

Keith M. Huber, senior adviser for veterans and leadership initiatives and a retired U.S. Army lieutenant general; Dr. Deb Sells, vice president of student affairs and vice provost for enrollment and academic services; and center Director Hilary Miller all joined Blackburn for her tour.

Daniels Veterans Center Director Hilary Miller, left, shows U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn one of the red stoles presented to graduating student veterans three times a year in a special ceremony just before commencement. Miller and Keith M. Huber, senior adviser for veterans and military initiatives and a retired U.S. Army lieutenant general, invited the senator to a future stole ceremony. Blackburn visited MTSU Friday, June 21. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

Daniels Veterans Center Director Hilary Miller, left, shows U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn one of the red stoles MTSU presents to graduating student veterans three times a year in a special ceremony just before commencement. Miller and Keith M. Huber, senior adviser for veterans and military initiatives and a retired U.S. Army lieutenant general, invited the senator to a future stole ceremony. Blackburn visited MTSU Friday, June 21. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

A scheduled visit to Murfreesboro led to an opportunity for Blackburn to tour the center inside Keathley University Center, the largest and most comprehensive veterans center on any Tennessee higher education campus.

“I am so impressed,” the Republican lawmaker from Williamson County said during her inaugural visit to the center. “This is seeded so well within the framework of the university. It is a part of the university and has the support of the staff and faculty here.”Daniels Veterans Center logo

Calling her tour “so helpful” as she admired a large mural painted by a former MTSU student, Blackburn praised the center’s student-veteran computer stations as “fantastic” along with the commemorative stoles for MTSU’s graduating student veterans.

During the visit, Blackburn met Calvin Ockletree, 27, a graduate student in criminal justice from Indianapolis, Indiana, and former U.S. Army sergeant; Kwantisha Avila, 28, a sophomore criminal justice major and former U.S. Marine sergeant from Austin, Texas; and Will Johnson, 23, a junior business management supply chain major and former U.S. Army specialist from Martin, Tennessee.

Kwantisha Avila, right, a sophomore criminal justice major from Austin, Texas, shares about her student-veteran life and that of a former U.S. Marine sergeant to Keith M. Huber, left, U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn and John Clement, field director in Blackburn’s office, during a Friday, June 21, visit to MTSU. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

Kwantisha Avila, right, a sophomore criminal justice major from Austin, Texas, discusses her life as a student-veteran life and as a former U.S. Marine sergeant with MTSU’s Keith M. Huber, left, U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn and Blackburn’s office field director, John Clement, during a Friday, June 21, visit to MTSU. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

John Clement, field director in Blackburn’s office and a retired U.S. Army helicopter pilot, joined her on the visit.

“I am so inspired by this center, I may want to come back to school. … I am so happy to be a part of this visit,” he said.

Elected to the U.S. Senate in 2018 and sworn in in January, Blackburn is serving her first term representing Tennessee. Before her election to the Senate, she represented Tennessee’s 7th Congressional District, which comprises portions of Middle and West Tennessee, from 2003 to 2019.

MTSU WordmarkThe Daniels Center enables the 1,000-plus student-veteran population on campus to have a one-stop shop to meet a variety of academic needs.The center’s goal is to help current military, veterans, and family members move from military to college, then from college to a successful career.

Located in the heart of campus, the 3,200-square-foot center is a place for student veterans to study, gather and get help from fellow veterans, who serve as peer advisers and sponsors. The Transitioning Home Office within the center assists student veterans — or any student — in making the transition from college to career.

Tickets remain available for the Daniels Center’s second fundraising Veteran Impact Celebration, set for 6 p.m. Thursday, June 27, at The Grove at Williamson Place near Interstate 24. The event is a thank-you to corporate and community supporters and will feature the country music legend. Individual tickets are $200 or $300 for a two-ticket combo. To buy tickets, which are limited, go online to www.mtsu.edu/veteranimpact.

To learn more about the Daniels Center, call 615-904-8347 or visit www.mtsu.edu/military.

— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)

U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn visited MTSU’s Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center for the first time Friday, June 21. Pictured outside the center entrance, from left, are Deb Sells, vice president of Student Affairs and vice provost for Enrollment and Academic Services; Blackburn; Daniels Veterans Center Director Hilary Miller; and Keith M. Huber, senior adviser for veterans and military initiatives and a retired U.S. Army lieutenant general. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn visited MTSU’s Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center for the first time Friday, June 21. Pictured outside the center entrance, from left, are Deb Sells, vice president of student affairs and vice provost for enrollment and academic services; Blackburn; Daniels Veterans Center Director Hilary Miller; and Keith M. Huber, senior adviser for veterans and military initiatives and a retired U.S. Army lieutenant general. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)


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