Health Education & Wellness

Task Force in Support of Student Veterans

Student Veteran Advisory Board
Questions from Veterans: Answers from UT Staff


In the Fall of 2011, the task force was charged to look at student veteran needs, current best practices and to develop resources and establish inter-departmental support networks for student veterans.



Current Membership:

Ashley Blamey Chair, Director Center for Health Education & Wellness
Kathy Abbott Assistant Registrar
Dan Berryman Assistant Vice Chancellor Human Resources
Laura Bryant Assistant Director Center for Health Education & Wellness
Brian Gard Director of Emergency Management
Spencer Gregg Medical Director Student Health Center
Camille Hall Associate Professor College of Social Work
Annazette Houston Director Disability Services
Mary Mahoney Assistant Director Career Services
Paige Phillips Associate Director New Student and Family Programs
Anton Reece Director Student Success Center
Jayetta Rogers Veterans Affairs Coordinator & School Certifying Official
Ingrid Ruffin Diversity Resident Librarian
Ron Tredway Director of Human Resources



  • Priority registration
  • Annual Veteran’s Day campus events
  • Annual Memorial Day campus events,
  • Veteran-specific orientation session
  • Welcome Week- Welcome Home dinner event
  • Comprehensive website resources
  • Establishment of the Student Veteran Advisory Board
  • Founding UT Chapter of SALUTE (Service, Academics, Leadership, Unity, Tribute & Excellence) Veterans National Honor Society
  • 2013 UT Knoxville Ranks 15th in the inaugural National Universities: Best Colleges for Military Veterans

Student Veteran Advisory Board

The purpose of the Student Veteran Advisory Board is to provide an organized representation of student veterans who will serve in an advisory capacity to the Task Force in Support of Student Veterans. Members of the SVAB have committed to the following:

  • Serve as a voice for students who have served or are currently serving in the military
  • Assist University administration to improve the experience of service men and women
  • Provide leadership and representation to the student veteran population



How do I find a balance between family, work, and school?
How would you suggest that I deal with the challenge of personal finances while in college?
How do I adjust from the military pace and protocol to the college student pace and protocol?
How am I supposed to deal with being in class with a bunch of 18 year olds? I feel like I am being treated like a kid.
How can I deal with the anxiety I feel when I sit in a classroom of over 200 students?
How do you suggest that I meet people on campus that I can connect with?
It’s been a long time since I practiced my study habits. How do you suggest that I get back into practicing good study habits?

Q. How do I find a balance between family, work, and school?

A. The first step in balancing is communicating your goals of pursing an undergraduate degree. While communicating may sound easy enough, it requires time, patience, and energy.

The second step is planning. It helps to have a long view of the whole semester, a mid-range ten-day view of what’s on the horizon, and a daily view of your immediate to-do list. If planning isn’t your strong suit, meet with an Academic Coach at the Student Success Center to help you.

The third step is a reality check. Is it really possible to fit everything into your life right now? If you’re trying to go to school full time and work full time, at least one of those areas is going to suffer, meaning you won’t do your best work there.   Something may have to give. And decisions along these lines are not easy at all. You may have to downsize at home, spend less and work less hours at a job. Or you may have to go to school part time because your financial demands are not flexible. Or you may have to cut back on both because you actually want to know your children or your spouse and not just rush past them on the way to your next task. Step back, take some time for a reality check, and ask yourself if you’re giving your best to the things you care about the most. If you’d like to talk to someone at UT about options, you could see your academic advisor, Career Services, or a Counselor at the Student Counseling Center.

Anton Reece, Director of the Student Success Center

Q. How would you suggest that I deal with the challenge of personal finances while in college?

A. Starting early would be the first and most obvious answer to this issue; however, we all realize that sometimes the transition from military life to college life does not lend itself to months of planning. If, and when, possible it is recommended that you:

Start the application process for your VA benefits about 4 months prior to the beginning of the term

Have at least 2 months of savings to include rent, utilities, food, gas, bills, etc. set aside prior to your first month of college

Apply for Helping Heroes Grant

Apply for additional financial aid, accepting loans only if absolutely necessary and doing so within reason.

Regina Lewellyn, Veterans Affairs, Office of the University Registrar

Q. How do I adjust from the military pace and protocol to the college student pace and protocol?

A. Transitioning from military structure and pace can pose a unique challenge for returning veterans. The following can be helpful to keep in mind:

Capitalize on your strengths you have gained. Your experiences are a good base for achieving academic success.

In your life as a student, you will face an increased number of decisions that impact your future without clear guidance. These decisions may also seem trivial and less meaningful at times. Consulting with academic advisers, career services, and trusted friends can help. Become familiar with the offices and supports available to you on campus.

Prepare a few brief answers that you feel comfortable giving to others who ask about your military service. While many may ask out of sincere interest, some questions may be inappropriate and/or jarring. This may also be true when interacting with individuals who disapprove or challenge military service and efforts. Try to keep a level head, and remember that you have the right to disengage from a conversation or situation.

Seek out information, and be willing to ask questions. You are now in a structure where you may need to ask questions multiple times and to multiple people. Familiarize yourself with the Veterans Affairs office and procedures as well as the university’s website.

Have patience with yourself during the transition process, and with friends and family who are adapting to the transition with you. It took time to develop your identity as a soldier, and it will take time and active effort to develop your identity as a student. Pace yourself in both the number of responsibilities you take on and seek to create academic and social balance. Limit use of alcohol and illegal substances and take care of your health through adequate sleep, nutrition, and exercise.

While you may at first find it difficult to connect with traditional college students who may be of a different age and experiences. Working to avoid isolation by seeking out connection with returning military and non-military students, student groups, and organizations in the community can help foster a sense of connection, identity and purpose. Actively work to live your life as a student as fully as possible, academically and socially.

Jennie Bingham, Staff Psychologist

Q. How am I supposed to deal with being in class with a bunch of 18 year olds? I feel like I am being treated like a kid.

A. While the university contains a wide diversity of ages, every year at least 4,000 “traditional” students (18 years old, arriving from high school) enter the mix. Certain courses like FYS 101 were created to directly address the transition needs of these students as they mature, take on more rigorous work, and perhaps for the first time balance demands and pressures from the key areas of life: social, financial, emotional, intellectual, physical, etc. In a class like this, your own adjustment needs will differ from those of a traditional student. But you cannot assume that your instructor will know that difference. Meet with your instructor during office hours to explain that difference and make sure he/she knows where you are in life. If you would like to talk to someone else about those dynamics, schedule an appointment with an Academic Coach at the Student Success Center, or schedule an appointment with a Counselor at the Student Counseling Center.

Anton Reece, Director of the Student Success Center

Q. How can I deal with the anxiety I feel when I sit in a classroom of over 200 students?

A. For many returning from military service, the experience of being in a classroom full of students can be anxiety-provoking and uncomfortable.

Remember that some of the reactions you may be experiencing in the classroom were beneficial to you while on active duty, and are simply not as necessary or adaptive in your current environment (i.e. being on constant alert for danger, mentally taking note of exits, acting quickly and asking questions afterwards, focusing on completing tasks at any cost, not questioning authority). It may help at the beginning to choose a seat that allows for monitoring others and/or a quick or discreet exit if it becomes necessary and moving forward as your comfort level increases.

To the level that you are comfortable doing so, communicate with your professors. You could let them know about your status and explain to them why you may sit towards the back of the class or need to leave periodically. This may be especially helpful if there are environmental factors in the class that are triggering for you (i.e. laser pointers)

Pay attention to your stress level before entering the classroom. It may help to limit caffeine and other stimulants, get plenty of sleep, and pay attention to nutrition. Allow yourself to become familiar with campus and the classroom before other students are in the room. Consider practicing deep breathing or other relaxation techniques. The military has developed some smart phone applications that may be a good starting point (i.e. Tactical Breather; Mood Tracker).

Have patience with yourself and others, and seek out support. While there may be the inclination to “just deal with it,” anxiety can impede your ability to learn and retain information and there are many tools at your disposal for increasing your comfort and effectiveness. Consult with other returning military students, trusted faculty and staff, and the counseling center or VA as needed.

Jennie Bingham, Staff Psychologist

Q. How do you suggest that I meet people on campus that I can connect with?

A. If you’re interested in connecting with fellow veteran students, e-mail the Veterans at UTK student organization at to learn more about their meetings, activities, and social events. You can also get involved on campus by attending organizational interest meetings at the beginning of each semester and joining groups that share your academic, cultural, or social interests. Finally, if you live on campus, get to know your resident assistant and attend meetings of your residence hall association to meet other residents and learn more about other opportunities to get involved.

George Shields, Student Member 2011-2014

Q. It’s been a long time since I practiced my study habits. How do you suggest that I get back into practicing good study habits?

A. If you feel like you are in need of sharpening your study habits, you are far from alone. Both at UT and nationally, students in higher education quickly realize that the effort they put in prior to college isn’t going to cut it in this arena. In a recent survey, 91% of college freshmen said they were highly surprised by the amount of work it took to meet the demands of their instructors.

Instructors are an excellent place to start. Prior tests or projects, you’ll want to meet with them in office hours to discuss the ways you are working and preparing. Ask for tips on how to improve upon your current plan. After tests are returned, meet with them to learn from your mistakes and redirect your efforts so that you do better next time.

In addition to meeting with your instructors, an Academic Coach in the Student Success Center can work with you one on one to tackle your entire class schedule or just a particular course or two that might be giving you trouble.

Anton Reece, Director of the Student Success Center


Campus Resources
Financial Resources
Local Resources
Smartphone Apps
Online Resources

Campus Resources

The College Access and Persistence Services – The CAPS Outreach Center at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, provides outreach services designed to support, increase, and strengthen college-bound low-income and first-generation individuals. Within this population, CAPS places special emphasis on underrepresented minorities who symbolize the least advantaged segments of the population.


Career Services – Career Services provides career counseling, career exploration classes, interest and personality assessments and resources to help students choose a major and career. Career Services can help students identify part-time jobs, internships and full-time positions through our HIRE-A-VOL system. If you haven’t already, visit the Career Services website and register with HIRE-A-VOL to gain access to job postings as well as updates about workshops, job fairs and employer visits.


Counseling Center – The Counseling Center is the university’s primary facility for personal counseling, psycho-therapy, and psychological outreach and consultation services. The Counseling Center’s mission is to promote the psychological, educational, and social well-being of the students of the University of Tennessee and to help prepare them to be productive members of society.


Disability Services – The Office of Disability Services (ODS) assists students with documented disabilities. ODS determines a student’s eligibility for services and reasonable accommodations so each student will have equal access to the university.


Task Force in Support of Student Veterans
The Task Force in Support of Student Veterans was established in the fall of 2011 by the Vice Chancellor for Student Life, W. Timothy Rogers. The task force works to acknowledge the sacrifice of the veteran who has served both at home and abroad. This task force brings faculty, staff, and students throughout campus together to coordinate resources and establish interdepartmental support networks for student veterans.


Office of Equity and Diversity – The Office of Equity and Diversity serves the campus in two primary roles. First, OED provides leadership, resources, and services of the University community, and acts as a support for the enhancement of diversity programs campus-wide. Second, OED fulfills an important compliance function by working with various legal mandates set out by state and federal law, and University policies as they relate to civil rights, equal employment and affirmative action.


S.E.E. Center – Safety Environment and Education Center (S.E.E. Center) is a unit in the Division of Student Life dedicated to the holistic development and support of our students. The unit is designed to create connections which draw from across the Division of Student Life, the University and the greater Knoxville community.


Veterans at UTK – The Veterans at UTK Student Group works to create a veteran community on campus by supporting incoming veterans transitioning to higher education, providing a meaningful service to the university and the surrounding community, and fostering a veteran-friendly environment.


Veteran Affairs – 209 Student Services, 865-974-1500

Financial Resources

Helping Heroes Grant – Full-time veterans who meet the eligibility criteria can receive up to $1000 each semester, and part-time students up to $500, after successful completion of courses. It can be used in combination with the GI Bill. Spring Deadline is February ?? Students can complete the application and bring it along with their DD214 to meet with the Office of Veterans Affairs.


SVA Google Scholarships – Used to identify high-performing student veterans in the Computer Science field and to reward achievement and encourage further study through scholarship program.


Tennessee Department of Veteran Affairs – The Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs (TDVA) operates 12 field offices, four Tennessee State Veterans Cemeteries, serves as liaison for three Tennessee State Veterans Homes, assists with active duty casualties and hosts outreach events across the state to raise awareness and assist veterans, as well as their families.  Veterans Benefits Representatives at the 12 TDVA field offices help veterans and their families to file claims for federal benefits. TDVA also trains County Service Officers to effectively and efficiently file claims for veterans across the state. TDVA also monitors and assists with state legislation focused on veterans and their families


Office of Financial Aid – Emergency Loans for Books, Parking, etc.: If a student is having difficulty paying for books, supplies, parking, etc., most students who are enrolled at UT can request an interest and fee free Emergency Loan of up to $500 per semester from the Office of Financial Aid, 116 Student Services Building, (865) 974-3131

Local Resources

Shangri-La Therapeutic Academy of Riding – Shangri-La Therapeutic Academy of Riding (STAR) Heroes and Horses Program is a therapeutic riding program for wounded warriors in East Tennessee. For more information, visit the website or call (865) 988-4711.


Team River Runner – Team River Runner (TRR) creates innovative paddling programs designed to assist with the recovery of those injured while serving our country. TRR volunteers and partners provide local communities unique opportunities for the active, safe and positive support of healing service members and their families.

Smartphone Apps

Breathe2Relax – Breath2Relax is a portable stress management tool. Built on the iPhone mobile app platform, Breathe2Relax is a hands-on diaphragmatic breathing exercise Breathe2Relax can be used as a stand-alone stress reduction tool, or can be used in tandem with clinical care directed by a healthcare worker.


– BioZen is one of the first mobile applications to provide users with live biofeedback data from multiple wearable body sensors covering a range of biophysiological signals, including electroencephalogram (EEG), electromyography (EMG), galvanic skin response (GSR), electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG), respiratory rate, and temperature biofeedback. The data is then displayed on a mobile phone.


Guard Your Buddy (for TN National Guard) – Guard Your Buddy is a joint effort by the Tennessee National Guard, The Jason Foundation, Inc., and E4 Health to give the men, women, and families in the Tennessee National Guard anytime, anywhere access to critical life resources, on-demand counseling, and on-call suicide prevention.


Operation Reachout – Operation Reachout is a smartphone app aimed at preventing suicide among military veterans.


PTSD Coach – The PTSD Coach app enables individuals to identify personal sources of emotional support, populate the phone with phone numbers and link treatment programs.

Online Resources

Affordable College Online: Higher Education Affordability for Veterans

  • Expert-driven content from a military veteran with several contributors from Veterans Affairs departments
  • Resource listings for Veterans scholarships and grants
  • College returns-on-investment information for colleges with specific programs for Vets
  • Actionable information related to the GI Bill and Yellow Ribbon programs

American Corporate Partners – America Corporate Partners offers free corporate mentorships to post 9/11 service members by pairing veterans with a seasoned professional at 40 top companies (such as Accenture, Boeing, IBM, Deloitte, Johnson & Johnson, Wells Fargo) to help with their career development. These mentorships can help veterans translate their military experience to civilian terms and offer an array of opportunities for networking.


The American Legion – The American Legion is the largest service organization that offers various local programs, numerous scholarships, a national emergency fund and other services to support troops.


Army OneSource – Army OneSource is a portal for US Army programs, benefits, services, and more. – provides the public with thorough and accessible information on financial well-being. To learn how to understand and manage your debt, click here. To learn about mental health services offered to veterans, click here. To learn more about health care services for veterans, click here.


Disabled American Veterans – Disabled American Veterans is a non-profit charity that offers community outreach services and advocacy for disabled veterans.


eBenefits – eBenefits is a central location for veterans, service members, and their families to research, find, access, and, in time, manage their benefits and personal information.


Half of Us – Half of Us features a list of resources for veterans, their families and individuals wanting to support veterans. You’ll also find a number of videos in which veterans share their experiences about returning from service.


Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America – Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America is dedicated to helping Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and their families through access to their social network in which you can connect with other veterans and get information on local events.


Marine Corps Community Services – Marine Corps Community Services has information on, and assistance with, Marine life, family and retiree issues, employment, and more. Includes a 24/7 “DSTRESS” line — phone and live chat.


Marine Parents – Marine Parents is a charity organization that provides support and education to families of Marines via email support, message boards and chat rooms.


Military OneSource – Military OneSource is a comprehensive portal for military benefits and assistance programs. – Military Help Line provides anonymous, free help for veterans, members of the military, and their families. The site includes links to resources, online chat help, and a 24/7 telephone hotline.


My Army Benefits – My Army Benefits allows soldiers to find benefits by category, component, or by state/territory.  Visit the “Benefit Library” for more information.


National Guard Bureau Joint Services Support – The National Guard Bureau Joint Services Support is a benefits and assistance portal specifically for Army and Air Guard service members. See “Our Programs” for resources by category, or use the “Resource Finder” to locate by geography.


National Resource Directory – The National Resource Directory, in partnership with the Departments of Defense, Labor, and Veterans Affairs, provides access to a variety of services at the local, state and national levels for veterans and ill and injured service people and their families.


National Veterans Foundation – The National Veterans Foundation is the only toll-free crisis and referral hotline for veterans, staffed by specially trained veterans and counselors. You can call this number to talk about whatever services you may need.


Navy Personnel Command: Support and Services – The Navy Personnel Command: Support and Services site provides a variety of support and services to sailors, both on and off the job. Among other things, the site strives to: “Empower sailors to make informed career decisions; Promote physical and mental wellness of sailors; Provide personalized attention to families.”


SAMHSA Veteran Resources – The Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration has a list of resources for veterans and families, including links on mental health and trauma.


United States Department of Veterans Affairs – The United States Department of Veterans Affairs provides veterans with benefits and services. Their site includes a wealth of information such as a directory of VAs across the U.S., help for PTSD, descriptions of VA benefits and facts on healthcare.


USA Cares – USA Cares exists to help bear the burdens of service by providing post-9/11 military families with financial and advocacy support in their time of need. Assistance is provided to all branches of service, all components, and all ranks while protecting the privacy and dignity of those military families and veterans who request help.


Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States – Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States is a non-profit organization that offers community service programs to vets along with various scholarships.


Vets4Warriors – Vets4Warriors is a peer support line for service members that is staffed by veterans. For any issue, at any time, a veteran is ready to help. For help or more information call 1-855-VET-TALK.


Wounded Warrior Project – The Wounded Warrior Project works to raise awareness and enlist the public’s aid for the needs of injured service members, to help injured service members aid and assist each other, and to provide unique, direct programs and services to meet the needs of injured service members.


Would you like to suggest a related link as an addition to our list? Please e-mail us with your suggestions!

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