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TCC staffer pays it forward at the CMVE

Meet Ed Sivells. He is a proud Navy veteran who is paying it forward at TCC.

Sivells is one of the certifying officials for the Center for Military and Veterans Education (CMVE). Last week, he submitted the 1 millionth application to certify a military-related student for educational benefits through the Veterans Administration’s new enrollment management site.

To mark the occasion, Ed is being featured in a video for the VA. And sharing his story.

Sivells is a retired Navy senior chief petty officer. He was a culinary specialist who served the Office of the Secretary of Defense, preparing meals in the White House. He also spent time in Washington, D.C. as an enlisted aide to Admirals.

When he retired from the military, he came to TCC to earn an associate degree and landed a position as a work-study student in the CMVE. He became a full-time staff member in 2017. “I found my calling in this place. When I saw the opportunity to serve military members and their families, it sparked a passion in me.”

He added, “You can hear the sound of relief in their voices when we help them find a path forward. I know what it’s like to walk in their shoes and this job is my way of giving back.”

Sivells earned a Hospitality Management degree from TCC and a bachelor’s in business administration from Regent University.

Sivells encourages other veterans to follow in his footsteps. “TCC is a veteran-friendly school with people here to help. TCC made me feel comfortable in the transition from the military and I’m grateful. Now it’s my joy to make things happen for other members of the military community.”

For more information about the CMVE, visit here.

TCC is among the top ten schools in the nation that are Best for Vets

Tidewater Community College was named the top two-year school in the Commonwealth by Military Times in its Best for Vets: Colleges 2021 rankings. TCC is also among the top ten schools in the nation in the Best for Vets rankings.

Best for Vets ranked TCC No. 1 in Virginia and ninth overall among two-year institutions in the nation.

“It’s a tremendous honor for TCC to be selected again as the top school for veterans in Virginia,” said Veronica Cianetti, director of military and veterans services for TCC’s Center for Military and Veterans Education (CMVE). “The staff of the CMVE and the college work daily to serve the needs of our military-related students. In addition to providing excellent student support services, we work closely with military supportive business, industry and organizations to achieve our mission of facilitating educational and employability success.” 

Military-focused offerings include:

  • A partnership between Virginia Natural Gas and TCC for a workforce development initiative that trains veterans and transitioning military to fill the growing need for skilled workers in the natural gas industry. The week-long program, offered at the Virginia Beach Campus, began in 2017.
  • The Machining Skills Certification, a SkillBridge-approved program that trains military-related students in Computer Numeric Controlled (CNC) machinery from setup to operation. CNC machinists are in demand throughout Hampton Roads and the nation. Military-related students may also use their GI Bill benefits to pay for this program. Contact Anthony Fontes, project coordinator, at for information.
  • Solar Ready Vets, a U.S. Department of Energy program in partnership with Naval Station Norfolk and TCC, offers transitioning military the chance to train for new careers in the solar industry. The entire program can be completed in just five weeks and the cost may be covered or reduced for veterans. For information contact Fontes at
  • Training in truck driving. TCC recently received the sixth grant to train military veterans and their dependents for careers in trucking. Recipients of the grant pay nothing to complete the one-semester, 16-credit certificate. Classes are taught at the Center for Workforce Solutions on College Drive in northern Suffolk.

Military-related students make up about one-third of TCC’s enrollment. The statistics used for the Bets for Vets survey do not account for dependents.

The rankings are based on the results of Military Times’ annual survey — a comprehensive school-by-school assessment of veteran and military student services and rates of academic achievement — as well as a detailed review of public data collected by federal agencies. The survey asks colleges and universities to document a wide array of services, special rules, accommodations and financial incentives offered to students with military ties, and to describe numerous aspects of veteran culture on a campus.

CMVE ready to assist military-related students with everything

Military-related students, we’ve got you covered.

Pose any question about almost anything, and Tidewater Community College’s Center for Military and Veterans Education will provide an answer.

“The buck stops here,” said Shelly Bearden, a VERITAS veterans resource liaison. “I’m not going to send anyone to another office. If something’s not working, if you’re frustrated with a process, if you have any kind of problem, I will make sure it gets solved.”

Bearden refers to herself as an advocate for all of the college’s military-related students. Echoing that are her colleagues Cassandra Harris, lead military academic advisor, and Alesia Wroten, also a VERITAS veterans resource liaison.

With the Navy a part of all of their backgrounds, the administrators don’t just understand the language of the military — they’re fluent in it. They understand acronyms, including myCAA, VMSEP and TA and can explain if you qualify.

They can answer any questions about GI Bill benefits. The email was set up specifically to respond to questions related to military-related students looking to use their GI Bill.

Wroten handles workforce programs geared toward military-related students seeking a short-term program that leads to immediate employment. A sampling:  

Wroten works with student vets to ensure they know all their options before selecting a program. “I make sure they know about all the workforce programs they can take advantage of,” she said.

Harris had been on base prior to COVID-19; now she is based at the Virginia Beach Campus with the others. She works primarily with active duty service members, but also assists veterans, spouses and dependents. She provides a range of services, including the evaluation of credit from military experience and prior college/universities attended to ensuring that qualified military-related students receive a domicile exception to pay instate tuition.

Harris also helps military who might not be able to finish the semester due to deployment or temporary assignment. “We can get them pulled out of class and get their tuition fully refunded,” she said.

She’s happy to help military-related students navigate the transfer process and will even advise a student vet on how many hours he or she can handle based on other obligations.

Bearden can assist former military looking to transfer to an Ivy League college as TCC is part of the Warrior-Scholar Project.

The CMVE is also able to direct veterans to a plethora of resources — from assistance to pay for books to filing a disability or unemployment claim.

“We take a holistic approach,” Harris said. “The CMVE is a one-stop shop.”

You don’t have to remember who does what if you’re a military-related student in need of assistance. Email for any questions. Virtual service is available daily or via phone; see this link for information.

TCC military-related students to receive housing stipend while learning online

COVID-19 has disrupted all of our lives.

But thanks to a new law, the pandemic doesn’t have to derail the educational plans of TCC’s military-related students.

A new law, S. 3503, gives the Veterans Administration temporary authority to continue GI Bill payments uninterrupted and allows for continued payment of benefits, even if the program has changed from resident training to online training.

Since the start of the pandemic, TCC transitioned to remote learning for most students and will continue in that format at least through Spring Semester 2021.

 “We’re honored to serve our military students and their families and know that having this financial resource guaranteed will certainly help many of our students on their academic journeys,” said Veronica Cianetti, Director, Military and Veterans Services at TCC’s Center for Military and Veterans Education (CMVE).

Traditionally, the housing stipend is only given to students who attend classes on campus. But with most colleges transitioning to remote learning due to COVID-19, the new law extends protection for veteran students studying online.

The protection will continue until at least December 2021.

To learn more about TCC’s services for military-related students, visit here.

For more information about using your GI Bill benefits, call the CMVE at 757-822-7645 or 855-399-7480 (toll-free if outside the U.S.).

Explore TCC during the college’s first-ever virtual information sessions

Reach your academic and career goals during these uncertain times by participating in Tidewater Community College’s first-ever virtual information sessions on May 26 and 28.

Hear presentations from TCC representatives about academics, technical training, student services and campus resources from the comfort of your home. Learn how you can get started with affordable, flexible and convenient courses.

Virtual information sessions will be held:

These sessions are for all prospective students and their families and will feature special breakout sessions on college transfer, military support, paying for college and career training. Experts will answer your questions, and students will share their experiences.

Whether you plan to take a full load or just one class, TCC offers a range of options to prepare you for the next step.

Visit our ChesapeakeNorfolkPortsmouth and Virginia Beach campuses virtually through our online videos and learn more about campus-specific services.

Need help? Email, call 757-822-1111 or visit our Help Center for answers to frequently asked questions.

TCC earns Military Friendly distinction again

Tidewater Community College has earned a 2020-21 Military Friendly® Schools designation.

In rankings released Tuesday, compiled by Military Friendly, TCC earned a bronze designation. Military-related students make up about one-third of TCC’s enrollment.

The designation recognizes colleges, universities and trade schools that are doing the most to embrace America’s military service members, veterans and spouses as students and ensure their success on campus.
“TCC is totally committed to our military and veteran community,” said Corey McCray, interim executive vice president for Academic and Student Affairs. “Our service members are at the top of our minds as we make decisions about the best way to serve our students and community in their pursuit of personal and professional goals.”

TCC received high marks in academic policies and compliance; admission and orientation; and culture and commitment.

The college assists military-related students at its Center for Military & Veterans Education offices located on all four campuses, local Navy bases and the Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek/Fort Story.

Among TCC’s resources for military-related students:

  • Assistance with the GI Bill®, Tuition Assistance, MyCAA for active-duty spouses, or Virginia-specific tuition waivers and credit for military experience.
  • Solar Ready Vets connects skilled veterans to the solar energy industry. TCC offers training on its Chesapeake Campus.
  • The Warrior-Scholar Project recently partnered with TCC to offer immersive college preparatory programs to prepare transitioning service members for the challenges of college.
  • A Veteran Education Resource Initiative for Transition, Advising, and Success (VERITAS) Initiative representative works with students to provide support from admission to graduation.

Viqtory Media, originator of the family of Military Friendly employment, entrepreneurship and education resources for veterans and their families, published the 2020-21 Military Friendly Schools and Employers ratings at

Companies and schools must have successfully completed a 2020-21 Military Friendly survey to be considered for the awards program. The methodology for the ranking and the names of awardees are published online at

TCC has also been repeatedly recognized by Military Times as a Best for Vets school.