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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.

Navy vet trains for solar energy career in just five weeks

Weston Craig found a new career after one phone call to Tidewater Community College.

After being laid off from Norfolk Naval Shipyard two years ago, the married father of two knew he needed to retrain quickly for another opportunity.

“I didn’t have time for a long program,” Craig said. “I called TCC and asked when the next certificate program was starting. It was Solar Ready Vets and literally two days later, I was in the program,” Craig said.

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 burgeoning solar industry. The entire program can be completed in just five weeks.

The U.S. solar industry now employs more than 174,000 highly-trained professionals nationwide and is poised to hire up to 35,000 additional full time professionals each year.

Students in a renewal energy technologies class work on installing solar arrays in the outdoor laboratory on TCC’s Chesapeake Campus.

Before completing program, Craig accepted an offer to work as a maintenance technician for Strata Solar, an independent contractor for Dominion Energy. For the last two years, he has maintained and troubleshot the industrial arrays in nine areas, including the Oceana Solar Farm in Virginia Beach.

TCC is one of seven community colleges in Virginia providing technical training and know-how for students pursuing work in the emerging solar, wind and geothermal industries. Students enrolled in Solar Ready Vets take classes on the Chesapeake Campus under the direction of Professor Eric Beaver, program head for Mechatronics.

“I definitely would not have gotten the job without the TCC program and my teacher Mr. Beaver. He made the material interesting and is the real reason for my success,” Craig said.

Last month, Craig was promoted to a new position within the company. As a regional manager, he now leads a team of five in maintaining the newly constructed Colonial Trail site in Surry County, the largest solar energy plant on the East Coast.

“I’m grateful for the good, steady work I’ve found in this field. I enjoy having a list of things to fix and going out there to get it done,” he said.

Craig encourages those who enjoy working with their hands with an interest in electrical work to consider renewable energies fields.

“The sky is the limit and now is the time,” Craig said.

The Dominion Foundation began supporting all of TCC’s renewable energies fields with a grant in 2010. The funding enabled the college to build and install the solar technology on top of the George B. Pass Building on the Chesapeake Campus. Previous grants in 2013 and 2016 helped build the curriculum for alternative energy education.

For more information about Solar Ready Vets, email Christopher Blow at The next cohort begins Feb. 10.

Military Times ranks TCC the best two-year college for vets in Virginia

Tidewater Community College has been recognized as the top-ranked two-year school in Virginia for its support of veteran and military students, according to 2019 rankings released by Military Times on Monday.

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.

TCC, which has a Center for Military &Veterans Education (CMVE) on each of its four campuses, ranks fifth overall and is one of two Virginia Community Colleges in the top 10. Southwest Virginia Community College checks in at No. 9.

“Our priority at the CMVE continues to be serving military-related students, whether they be active-duty, transitioning military, veterans or their family members,” said Batanya Gipson, interim director of the CMVE. “We strive to make the CMVE a one-stop shop, where our military-related students can receive help with academic and career advising and learn how to use their GI Bill®  funding and other college and community resources that can help them achieve their education and career goals.”

About 35 percent of TCC’s enrollment is military-related students.

The CMVE continues to work to secure approval for students to use GI Bill® benefits and SkillBridge funding. The college offers a digital court reporting program geared specifically toward military and their families. TCC was recently recognized for its partnership with Virginia Natural Gas, which provides training for transitioning military.

The college’s Solar Ready Vets program, which prepares sailors for careers in the solar industry, is in its third year. TCC also introduced a Career Studies Certificate in Inside Machinist last year that provides opportunity in the manufacturing and maritime industries, an ideal fit for former military members.

Military Times; Best for Vets: Colleges is an editorially independent, objective and rigorous news project in its ninth year. This feature evaluates the many factors that help make colleges and universities a good fit for service members, military veterans and their families. About 500 colleges took part in this year’s survey, and less than half received recognition in the survey.

The survey asks colleges and universities to disclose academic outcome and input data, describe many aspects of veteran culture on campus and meticulously document a wide array of services, special policies, accommodations and financial incentives offered to students with military ties. Military Times also factors in data from the Veterans Affairs and Defense departments, as well as three Education Department sources: the IPEDS Data Center, College Scorecard data and the Cohort Default Rate Database.

For the full list of two-year rankings, click here.

Rankings are published in Military Times print products – Army Times, Navy Times, Air Force Times and Marine Corps Times – sold on newsstands and sent to subscribers the week of Oct. 22.