Veterans of Lorain County Community College met with Ohio’s new Director of Department of Veterans Services (DVS) on Tuesday, Mar. 8. Retired United States Army Colonel, Chip Tansill, was appointed to the post in Sept. 2015 by Ohio Governor John Kasich.
“I loved everyday, every second,” Col. Tansill said of his military service.
Also in attendance at the forum, held in the veteran’s lounge on the second floor of the College Center building, were student-veterans; LCCC Provost and Vice President for Academic and Learner Services, Dr. Marcia Ballinger; Carrie Delaney, veteran’s coordinator; and Lorain County Veteran Service Commission Director, Terry Stone, Jr.
Col. Tansill wanted to meet with student-veterans directly in order to understand their concerns and how the Ohio DVS can improve its operations.
Much of the discussion centered around finding post-graduation jobs for veterans. Col. Tansill said there are about 1,400 registered ‘Vet-friendly’ businesses in Northeast Ohio. Focusing on educating businesses on how to hire veterans was Col. Tansill’s solution to combating veteran unemployment.
“The number one worry from employers is PTS (Post-traumatic Stress). Human resources don’t know how to hire vets,” Col. Tansill said. “We’re going to educate,” he added.
As of 2014, there are just over 866,000 veterans in the state of Ohio, making Ohio fifth in the United States in terms of veteran residents. About half of that number are under the age of 60.
Several of the veterans present expressed frustration with banks and other institutions who don’t accept their GI bills as a form of income. They said this has caused issues when renting apartments, purchasing homes, and even buying a new car. Some of the veterans were also concerned with how LCCC’s financial services processes the GI bill.
Governor Kasich is not just worried about veteran unemployment, but also underemployment, according to Col. Tansill. He also said that Ohio’s veteran unemployment is low, but not low enough. Col. Tansill added that Governor Kasich has pushed for and approved policies for veterans.
Col. Tansill, who attended a community college before he started his military service, believes that community colleges are a vital source for veterans.
In response to concerns of completing a degree, Dr. Ballinger commented on implementing Military Transfer Assurance Guides (MTAGs) at LCCC. MTAGs provide veterans with a guarantee that certain kinds of military training and experience will be awarded the appropriate college credits. She also added the potential for creating a ‘gap scholarship’ for vets to help supplement their other sources of financial aid. The potential scholarships would be funded through the LCCC Foundation, aiding these students to completion.