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Charlie Daniels and Middle Tennessee State University’s lengthy association continue to make amazing strides

MTSU unveils plaque, logo recognizing Daniels-led vet center gifts

 
THEC awards $185K-plus grant for student success efforts

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (August 24, 2016) – Music legend Charlie Daniels and Middle Tennessee State University’s lengthy association continue to make amazing strides.

With the unveiling of a plaque and a new logo for MTSU’s Charlie and
Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center named for them, MTSU
formally recognized the couple and The Journey Home Project he
co-founded to assist veterans during a Tuesday (Aug. 23) celebration at
the Miller Education Center on Bell Street.

Daniels and his wife, who have been married 52 years, were humbled
and moved by MTSU’s recognition, which included a presentation of MTSU
football jerseys from athletics director Chris Massaro and senior
defensive end Steven Rhodes, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran.

“It’s an extreme honor having my wife and myself named for the
veterans center,” Daniels said. “I accept the honor on behalf of The
Journey Home Project. We are just the tip of the iceberg. Thank you. I
will carry this with me for the rest of my life.”

Daniels said the center “is where veterans can obtain so much support
— health care, teleconferencing facilities, job placement, academics,
government bureaucracy and a therapeutic place to sit and talk with
others. Any problems they have they can get help at the center.”

In a related development, Mike Krause, the new Tennessee Higher
Education Commission executive director and a U.S. Army veteran,
announced to campus officials the awarding of a nearly $185,500 grant
after THEC accepted the center’s proposal focusing on increasing
veterans’ student success.

“MTSU has led the way in Tennessee regarding serving student
veterans,” Krause said. “We are excited to continue working with Dr.
(Sidney) McPhee and Gen. (Keith) Huber to ensure that after serving
their country, veterans are able to earn a world-class degree and enter
the workforce ready to succeed.”

Dr. Hilary Miller, the center director, said the grant will fund a
full-time transition manager (assist with enrollment, prior learning
assessment, supplemental academic counseling and coordination with the
veterans’ employing agent); a graduate assistant for communications;
student travel to conferences and travel for transition
manager/employing agent.

Hazel Daniels said the university’s acknowledgement of The Journey
Home Project’s gifts “are such an honor — and it’s so close to home
(from theirs in Mt. Juliet). We love the military. It’s a blessing
having our names on the center.”

Huber, senior adviser for veterans and leadership initiatives, master
of ceremonies for the event and retired U.S. Army lieutenant general,
said Daniels and The Journey Home Project “provide genuine support,
emotionally and financially, to establish an environment which provides
the comprehensive answers to challenges facing transitioning veterans.”

“His support to the Veterans and Military Family Center establishes a
space of trust and accountability similar to a military unit,” Huber
added. “Nothing can replace or replicate the bonds forged in combat, but
student veterans will reach out to fellow veterans who share the
commonality of selfless service and sacrifice. We all as veterans dream
of finally coming home and continuing to serve as leaders in our
community. This is the journey as we enter this next phase of our
lives.”

Invited by Huber because they serve on the Nashville Serving Veterans
Community Board together, Nashville Mayor Megan Barry said “the work of
the Veterans and Military Family Center changes many lives for the
better, opening new opportunities up to veterans so they have every
chance to reach their potential and continue serving their communities
and their country in new ways.”

“Thank you to Charlie and Hazel Daniels for everything they’ve given
to honor the sacrifices of America’s veterans,” added Barry. “The
renaming of the center is a fitting tribute to Charlie, Hazel and their
many contributions.”

McPhee said the Danielses “have given substantially to our center not
once but twice and expected nothing in return.” When he informed them
of his decision to name the center in their honor, “they were surprised
and appeared stunned. They simply didn’t expect it. They were and are
always humble, always gracious and always focusing on the needs of
others, particularly our veterans.”

The president said he hopes the “tangible recognition of the two
great citizens that will be displayed in the center will, hopefully,
inspire others to follow their example.”

Journey Home Project board members David Corlew and Joe and Mercedez
Longever joined Daniels at the event. Ed Hardy is the fifth board
member.

The Daniels-MTSU relationship stretches 40 years and five decades.

Daniels’ second Volunteer Jam was held in MTSU’s Murphy Center. The
university presented him with the Joe M. Rodgers Spirit of America Award
in 2009. The Danielses and The Journey Home Project gave separate
$50,000 (for computers and technology) and $70,000 gifts to the Veterans
and Military Family Center in 2015 and ’16. MTSU renamed the facility
the Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center in
April.

Daniels and U.S. Veterans Affairs deputy secretary Sloan Gibson
joined other special guests as the center celebrated a Nov. 5 grand
opening in Keathley University Center.

The 2,600-square-foot, $329,000 center is a one-stop-shop for MTSU’s approximately 1,000 student veterans and family members.

It is a place for student-veterans to study, to gather and to get
help from fellow veterans, who will serve as peer advisers and sponsors.

Tutoring assistance, VetSuccess on Campus and more are part of the
center’s offerings. The center staff features five full-time staff,
including a mental health counselor and more than 12 part-time
student-veterans. To learn more, visit mtsu.edu/military or call 615-904-8347.

 (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

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