Tusculum College Graduate and Professional Studies students Jordan Eggleston and Wes Baessler, both of Knoxville, who created The Military Assistance Group (TMAG) at Tusculum College in 2009, are pleased with the groups success in its first few years.
TMAG was created when Eggleston saw the need for veteran students to have assistance with their GI benefits. He enlisted Baessler’s help and, with the support of Tusculum College staff, the group and its activities have grown and evolved. It is the first certified Graduate and Professional Studies student organization at Tusculum.
“A lot of veterans are out of their element and have to adjust to a new environment when they come into the college environment,” said Eggleston. “Tusculum is very military friendly, and we can provide that extra bit of guidance and feeling of acceptance as they work to better themselves through education.”
Eggleston has spoken at student events to provide information on the military to educate the student body as a whole.
TMAG has provided care packages to deployed service members and assisted at a recent “Stand Down” event for homeless veterans as well.
Both Eggleston and Baessler are SPO II Bearcat Operators at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn., as well as students at Tusculum. Both also served five years in the U.S. Army as Military Police.
The group is currently focused on implementing its “Blue Star Program.” They are working with Tusculum on this program, which could eventually allow for a tuition discount for veterans’ family members. Veterans who have exhausted their GI benefits would also be eligible for this program.
“Families serve in the military as well, just in a different way,” said Baessler. “A distracted solider is a dead soldier and the family members ensure that things are maintained at home so the solider can focus on his or her duties. The family members are not thanked enough and this is one small way we can try to do that.”
WSI Oak Ridge Security Police Officer Brad Carter is also involved with TMAG and serves as its treasurer. Lauren Venable, is also very active with the group and serves as Secretary. Eggleston and Baessler credit Venable with being the driving force of the group. Carter served in Security Forces in the U.S. Air Force and Venable’s husband Ben served in the U.S. Army as Military Police.
The group has been successful in communicating its efforts to Tusculum students and has a page of the college’s internal website. Sixty students are currently members. TMAG is actively working to expand the group to include the other Tusculum campuses in Morristown, Greeneville and Gray, Tennessee.
Companies, organizations or individuals interested in donating to TMAG can do so by designating a donation to Tusculum College for the cause. For more information contact Tom McKay, Assistant Director/Academic Coordinator for Tusculum College at 865-693-1177 ext. 5020 or firstname.lastname@example.org.