Lipscomb University has appointed Charlie Jackson veterans program coordinator in its Office of Veteran Services.
In his new role, Jackson will develop internal programming, events, workshops and other programs and services specifically designed for the university’s more than 200 students who are military veterans. He will also develop programming for the greater university community to create awareness of and to help creative more effective programs and services for veterans across campus.
A native of Vicksburg, Mississippi, Jackson is a U.S. Army veteran who was stationed at Fort Campbell for six years as part of the United States Army 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne). During his service, he had four deployments to Afghanistan. He earned his undergraduate degree in business from Lipscomb University, and will be completing his master’s degree in organizational leadership there this summer.
“Charlie brings a unique perspective to this role as a veteran and as one who earned his degree at Lipscomb through our program for military veterans,” said Chad Staggs, director of Veteran Services at Lipscomb. “He has already hosted workshops and seminars to help create greater awareness on campus of how we can serve this population of students more effectively as a university community. He also has a strong connection to our veteran students because he has been where they’ve been and can use his experiences and perspective to engage with them and to also find ways to improve the services that we have here for them.”
Jackson said he views this as an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of students and to pay forward the kindness others have shown him.
“I came to Lipscomb in August 2014 to earn my degree because I knew that it had a strong veterans program,” said Jackson. “From the first class I took, I felt comfortable on campus. I am very grateful for the way I was embraced and supported along my journey. I see this as an opportunity to give back to not only students who are veterans on campus but also to traditional students. I want to bridge the gap that may be there and to build a strong foundation to serve new students who will come our way in years to come.”
Jackson said the goal of Veteran Services officials is to continue to grow the number of military veterans on campus, to retain those who are currently enrolled and to equip graduates with the tools, skills and connections to get a job. Jackson has developed a series of workshops on resume writing among other topics to provide resources for students who are pursuing new jobs after college.
Currently, Lipscomb serves more than 200 students who have previously served or are currently serving in the armed forces. In March, Lipscomb University became the first private university in Middle Tennessee to be designated a VETS Campus by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. The VETS Campus designation is part of the Tennessee Veterans Education Transition Support (VETS) Act of 2014. Campuses that meet the requirements must prioritize outreach to veterans and create an environment in which veteran students have the resources to thrive. Specific requirements include annual surveys of veteran students, targeted orientation programs, and mentoring and support services developed specifically for students who are veterans. THEC administers the VETS Campus program and provides the designation to campuses that meet the requirements specified by the VETS Act.
In fall 2009, Lipscomb launched its veteran services program. For veterans who qualify for 100 percent of the Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits Lipscomb University has committed to allocate the necessary funds to allow them to earn an undergraduate degree through the Yellow Ribbon Enhancement Program. The university also offers qualifying student veterans a variety of graduate degree options.
Lipscomb’s program has also been recognized nationally for its quality. Military Advanced Education awarded Lipscomb the designation of a “Top Military-Friendly University” in its “2015 Guide to Military-Friendly Colleges & Universities.” Last year marked the sixth consecutive year that Lipscomb University was designated a Military-Friendly School by “GI Jobs,” a publication of Victory Media, for its veteran services program. In 2014, U.S. News also ranked Lipscomb as the second-best regional university in the South for veterans. The College of Business was ranked 24th in the nation in the Military Times’ 2013 Best for Vets: Business Schools Guide for veterans based on financial aid, academic policies and participation in the Yellow Ribbon Program.
Last year the program was recently awarded a $185,563 grant from the Tennessee Higher Education Commission’s 2016 Veteran Reconnect grant program. Lipscomb University was only one of six universities in the state to receive the honor along with Chattanooga State Community College, Maryville College, Middle Tennessee State University, Tusculum College and the University of Tennessee-Martin.
In addition, a $25,000 Veterans Resource Center opened last November, funded in part by the Sentinels of Freedom organization, and includes areas for veterans to study and fellowship, a computer, television, kitchen/eating area, lockers and a place to relax in between classes.