Wallace State’s Veterans’ Corner gaining popularity on campus

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Wallace State employee Daniel Lauderdale talks during a meeting at the Veterans' Corner.

HANCEVILLE – Wallace State Community College's efforts to serve its student veterans continue to expand.

The college has set aside the sixth floor of the library as a Veterans' Corner where veterans can stop by at their convenience to study, congregate, share stories and unwind.
Wallace State's Success Coaches also hosted a Veterans' Club meeting recently on the sixth floor, distributing free T-shirts and other Wallace State goodies to the veterans who attended.

“It's fantastic we can come here and get to know each other. If nothing more, the camaraderie you can experience with fellow veterans means a lot,” said Bryant Simmons, 27, of Remlap, who served in the Marines for nearly five years. “I'm glad this is an option for us.”

Last November, Wallace State was designated nationally as a Military Friendly college for its record of military student success, including graduation and employment outcomes, and for its services and policies in support of veterans and their dependents. Daniel Lauderdale, an electrician for Wallace State, served in the Navy from 1993-98. He has worked diligently to notify veterans on campus of the opportunities available to them.

“The feedback has been very positive from the veterans I've talked to. They go tell their friends that Wallace State cares about its veterans and they might be interested in coming to college and enroll here,” Lauderdale said. “I want to influence veterans to come here. We owe them a lot.”

Lauderdale invited Sgt. Jeremy Hogan, founder and CEO of the Saving Forgotten Warriors group in Cullman, to speak at a recent meeting. Hogan discussed various perks and resources available to veterans in the area and throughout the state.

“The Saving Forgotten Warriors group has helped me out a lot. I've heard stories that deal with military and personal lives that are similar to mine or that I can relate to. It's a great support group,” Lauderdale said.

Wallace State's Veterans' Corner was spearheaded by IT Department employee Virginia Barber and her Leadership Wallace State team a couple of years ago.

Barber, an Air Force veteran who served in Desert Storm and her team, raised awareness about the experiences of veterans returning to civilian life and proposed a location where veterans could meet and support each other, as well as additional veteran-centered events and activities.

Joshua Nichols, 33, served in the Army and is grateful of the Veterans' Corner and subsequent meetings taking place.

“It's a great way for us to talk and help each other out with areas in our lives we may be struggling with or trying to rehabilitate,” Nichols said. “We can understand each other's needs.”

Any veterans on campus interested in more about the Veterans' Corner are encouraged to contact Lisa Smith at 256-352-8052 or email Lauderdale at daniel.lauderdale@wallacestate.edu.

In November, Wallace State is continuing its tradition of featuring servicemen and women on the college's large digital sign and on the website. If one would like to submit a photo, email donny.wilson@wallacestate.edu. The Burrow Museum is also hosting an exhibition this month commemorating veterans and America's military history from World War I through present day. If you are interested in loaning any artwork (including quilts, posters, paintings, etc.) for display in the exhibit, you can bring it by the Burrow Museum through Nov. 7 or contact Wilson at 256-352-8457.

Veterans, national guard/reservists and dependents/survivors are eligible for VA education benefits at Wallace State. The Alabama Community College System adopted The Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014 (Choice Act) after it was passed by the United States Congress and signed into law. The Choice Act guarantees in-state tuition to veterans and their family members.

Veterans interested in educational benefits available at Wallace State are encouraged to contact Wallace State's Gena Rice, the college's veterans' certifying official, at 256-352-8137 or at gena.rice@wallacestate.edu. Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits cover everything from tuition and fees to books for all of Wallace State's programs. Flight time for pilot training through Wallace State‟s aviation program is also covered.

For more information about Wallace State, visit www.wallacestate.edu.