The Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center accommodates a variety of students. Due to its support for military veterans, TTUHSC has been recognized on a national scale.
Because of the HSC’s work to help student veterans, according to a TTUHSC news release, the institution received a Silver Military Friendly designation after earning a spot on the 2019 to 2020 list of Military Friendly Schools from VIQTORY, a company dedicated to helping veterans in civilian life.
Some people may be unaware of the impact of this designation on TTUHSC and its future as a Military Friendly school. Sara Henly, TTUHSC veterans and military adviser, said there were 40 Texas schools with the Military Friendly designation, but TTUHSC was the only health sciences center to make the list.
“While the other 23 schools in that listing did offer some sort of healthcare related professions or degree plans, like RN or nursing programs or very limited health profession type programs,” she said, “we had the greatest offering with our five schools.”
Since she joined the HSC staff in 2016, Henly said the number of students using benefits has grown over 30 percent.
“At that time, we didn’t have our own military designation,” Henly said. “The last time we were, we were kind of grouped together with TTU. It was kind of important that we pursue our own military designation.”
Obtaining the Silver designation was a task Henly said required taking a survey on the Military Friendly website that consisted of questions regarding veteran enrollment, retention and current resources.
Since 2018, Henly said a lot of aspects of TTUHSC have changed, such as previously receiving the bronze-level designation and opening the Veterans Resource Center. She said she hopes TTUHSC can reach out to transitioning service members and their families.
“We see the need to expand all the services we offer to make sure we are meeting all those needs,” she said.
The Veterans Resource Center or the Interprofessional Military Healthcare Group student organization, was formerly known as the Military Medicine Interest Group are other resources Henly said TTUHSC offers student veterans.
For some student veterans, degree programs are also available for those wanting to utilize prior learning experiences from the military.
Debbie Sikes, director of TTUHSC veteran to Bachelor of Science in Nursing track, said there are two tracks for the BSN program: a second degree track, which is for people who have a bachelor’s degree, and the veterans to BSN track, which gives veterans with prior healthcare experience the opportunity to take part in the program.
Regardless of the different resources and programs offered to veteran students at TTUHSC, Sikes said students who have served in the military will seek information about an institution, such as TTUHSC, and learn of its Military Friendly Designation.
“When they look online, and they find the military friendly designation, that just gives them an assurance that this school is really seeking to benefit our veterans,” she said. “It’s a designation that means a lot to that veteran when they are seeking information about what their next steps are.”
When considering schools to attend, Sikes said student veterans consider different factors.
“They’re looking for a school that is going to help them navigate the system,” she said. “They also look for programs that have a good retention rate, graduation rate.”
Job placement rate is another college aspect Sikes said is important for student veterans. Along with these considerations, she said the Silver designation means TTUHSC is available to guide students who have served in the military.
“My hope is that as an institution, we will continue to be sensitive and acknowledge the service our military provided for us,” Sikes said. “I also want to ensure that when we have an individual that is serving in the military or has recently departed from their military service, that when they are looking for an institution to complete their higher education goals, that they will see Texas Tech as the first option for them.”
For some student veterans, the Military Friendly Designation may be an indicator of an accommodating institution.
Melinda Mullin, second-year BSN student from Mount Vernon, said she joined the army and did basic training at Fort Leonard Wood Missouri. She said she has faced different issues as a student veteran.
“Some of the struggles I have faced is finding the time and ability to really focus on my studies,” she said.
Before attending TTUHSC, Mullin said she attended schools that did not have the Silver designation and later started looking for that designation in other schools.
“When I found out that Texas Tech did have the silver designation, I definitely wanted to pursue that over others,” Mullin said. “I felt like it opened up more opportunities.”
Despite the impact of the designation, Mullin said people should recognize and thank those who have served in the military.
“Remember the sacrifices that they have made for this country and their families,” she said. “Remember the ones that are actually over there still.”