Supporting Military Student Transition at the Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center
Transitioning from military to civilian life can be challenging for any service member or veteran. With support from a military family center, making that transition can be smoother when providing resources and assistance from experts. The Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center in Murfreesboro, Tennessee does just that. Although they’re located on a college campus, they’re there to serve anyone — student or otherwise — who calls or steps foot in their door.
Support for Military-Connected Individuals and Their Families
The Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center is located on the Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) campus and is one of the most extensive of its kind nationwide. The Daniels Center represents the enduring legacy of U.S. Army Lt. Gen. (Retired) Keith Huber, whose vision brought it into existence in 2015. It is a testimony to the university’s commitment to assisting veterans, service members, and their families as they transition into civilian life.
The core of the Daniels Center’s mission is its commitment to the military community. Dr. Hilary Miller, director of the Center, passionately shares, “If you’re military-connected and you need assistance, we are set up to assist you.” The Center’s services, which include academic, military life transition, financial, mental/physical health, career support and more extend to all military families, providing them with a wide array of resources.
When Miller, a long-time professor at MTSU, and Huber, made the decision to open a space on campus, they aimed to ensure that everyone understood that their services were not exclusive to military students. They emphasize that anyone who is military-connected is welcome and can access the available resources as well.
Thanks to word of mouth from those who were supported while receiving services from the Center, they gained national recognition. Soon, military students and their families from around the country were calling to the Center for guidance for all their individual needs.
Tailored Support and Advocacy for Success
A key strength of the Daniels Center is its ability to address diverse and nuanced needs. Miller highlights their focus on understanding the unique challenges faced by different student groups, particularly emphasizing support during the transition back into civilian life for academic success. Whether someone is looking for a grant to pay their tuition, embarking on a new career path, or needing health services for a family member, the Daniels Center team provides the resources tailored to these kinds of needs.
This individualized attention highlights the Daniels Center’s commitment to ensuring the academic success of every military-connected student. When a student and their family’s basic needs are met, their chances of academic success are much better. “There’s a lot of humanity in this place,” says Miller, noting that everyone who comes to the Center is met by someone who can empathize with their circumstances.
Going the Distance for Students and Their Families
Central to its success is its community-driven approach. Through strategic partnerships and grants, the Center can provide financial assistance, employment programming, and emergency support to those in need. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Daniels Center remained open to the community. While many institutions were forced to close their doors, the Daniels Center was a haven for all military families nationally.
Miller shared an anecdote: A few years back, a struggling military student from Indiana, who needed funds for his college education. The Daniels Center team didn’t just provide him with information on grants, they made sure he followed through. When the deadline came and his application wasn’t in, Miller called to check-in. With just a few hours left to submit the application, she learned the student was stuck on the side of the road in a remote area. Rather than allowing the opportunity to pass, Miller stayed on the phone with him to complete the application.
The student, who was true to his military values putting his own needs aside for others, explained that his application was late because he was trying to help his mom find a job and desperately needed work. He had been driving around Tullahoma, Tennessee when his car broke down. The Daniels Center connected his mom with a job opportunity shortly after. This embodies the Center’s ethos: no military family should be left behind.
The Daniels Center distinguishes itself by helping individuals navigate the complex terrain of VA claims and services, ensuring that veterans receive the benefits they are entitled to, even if it means going the extra mile – or in some cases, the extra state. Huber’s legacy is not just about military service; it’s about the well-being of the military community, reinforcing the Daniels Center’s role as a bridge between military and civilian life.