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TCC secures seventh consecutive grant aimed to help veterans transition to careers in trucking

Tidewater Community College received a seventh federal grant to help train military veterans and their spouses for careers in trucking.

The U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently awarded TCC a $94,842 grant, which will be administered by the college’s Center for Military and Veterans Education (CMVE).

“So far we’ve helped more than 200 transitioning military, veterans and dependents train for a career in trucking at no cost to them,” said Alesia Wroten, veteran resource liaison with TCC’s CMVE.  “We are grateful to be one of two schools in Virginia to receive this funding, especially as the need for trained truck drivers is growing nationwide.”

TCC alum Tim Raub is a Navy veteran who now drives trucks.
Navy veteran Tim Raub earned his Truck Driver certificate at TCC.

According to the American Trucking Association, the United States will be short 175,000 drivers by 2026. A lack of drivers continues to make goods more expensive and delays orders as freight rates are climbing.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average age of a commercial truck driver is 55 years old. A significant percentage of these drivers will retire over the next 10 years.

TCC is one of 21 educational institutions that received funds from the $2 million federal grant to help train veterans for jobs as commercial bus and truck drivers.

Since TCC received its first grant in 2014, 220 veterans and spouses have enrolled in the Truck Driving program.

TCC students have a 98% pass rate on the DMV tests for commercial licenses.

Recipients of the grant pay nothing to complete the one-semester, 16-credit certificate. Students learn how to drive a truck in state-of-the-art simulators that allow them to practice in varied road and weather conditions. The program includes 140 hours of on-the-road training. Course work qualifies students to obtain the Class A CDL (commercial driver’s license) from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles.

Classes are taught at the Center for Workforce Solutions on College Drive in northern Suffolk. Day, evening and weekend sessions are available.

Contact Alesia Wroten, at or 757-822-7714, for information on qualifying for the grant program.

Veteran student giving back as SVA president

Romeo Sarmiento has a message for military-related students at Tidewater Community College.

“You are not alone. Your service is remembered. There is a place for you at TCC.”

Sarmiento spent seven years in the U.S. Marines as a demolition expert. He deployed three times across 13 countries. During his last tour of duty, he was a combat instructor at the Marine Corps training base in Quantico, Virginia. Training newly commissioned Marine officers is what motivated him to pursue a college degree.

Romeo Sarmiento on TCC’s Norfolk Campus.

“I understand what it’s like to get out of the service and start college. It’s no easy feat making the transition,” he said. “But having a community around you, connecting with faculty, staff and other students is key. I know from my time at TCC, if I ever need help I can get it whether it’s from a tutor or advisor or a dean.”

Sarmiento is giving back as president of TCC’s Student Veterans of America (SVA) chapter through the colleges’ Center for Military and Veterans Education. SVA provides resources, support and advocacy to ensure student veterans can connect, expand their skills, and ultimately achieve their academic and personal goals.

For Sarmiento, it’s important to support other veterans because when you serve together you become family. “We engage veterans by bringing in experts to talk about areas of concern like disability services and other resources for veterans,” he said. “Most importantly we provide a voice for veterans on campus.”

Sarmiento came to TCC in the spring of 2021 and is using his Post 9/11 GI Bill to pay for college.  “I wanted to get a fundamental understanding of being a college student, to sort of get my feet wet,” he said.

Sarmiento with WTKR-TV reporter Erica Greenway talking about TCC being named a “Best for Vets” school by Military Times.

Sarmiento started taking 21 credits as an Accelerated Degree student. He is now working on two degrees – one in general studies and the other in business administration. After TCC he has his sights set on the University of Virginia’s school of commerce and is considering a career in banking or management consulting.

“There’s always a misconception that a community college is not going to deliver the same value. For me, it was better because I was able to connect with professors who are working full-time in their fields and bringing all of that knowledge into the classroom.”

Working full-time and earning a 4.0 GPA at TCC has been challenging for Sarmiento, but he says it’s also been 100% worth it.

“TCC as a whole made me feel like part of a community – even during the pandemic,” he said. “It’s been a place to thrive.”

In remembrance of 9/11 and in recognition of our military heroes who lost their lives in Afghanistan, SVA is holding a “Coffee Chat” on Sept. 17 from 9 a.m. – noon in the Virginia Beach Campus Student Center, Veterans Lounge. To learn more about TCC’s Student Veterans of America chapter email Alesia Wroten at

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.).

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.