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News: Assoc. Prof. Steve Ward receives Chancellor's Commendation for Military Veterans

A man standing in front of an American flag background.

November 22, 2023
Originally published by TBR: Nov 10, 2023

Tennessee’s community and technical colleges honored veterans of military service – including students, faculty, staff and alumni – in Veterans Day activities earlier this month. As part of those ceremonies, one veteran at each college was awarded the Chancellor’s Commendation for Military Veterans, a special recognition launched four years ago by Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor Flora W. Tydings.

Roane State's recipient of the Chancellor’s Commendation was Steve Ward, associate professor of chemistry. Ward is a veteran of the National Guard. He recieved the specially commissioned Challenge Coin during the college's Veteran's Day observance at its Roane County campus on November 10.

The coin features symbols of the military branches on one side and the Chancellor’s Commendation designation on the other. Challenge coins have a long tradition in all military branches; they are awarded by commanders and signify special achievement, excellence, hard work, unit pride, respect and esprit de corps.

Across the TBR system, Chancellor’s Commendations were presented to a total of 37 individuals. The honorees for 2023 include 17 students, 11 faculty members, 8 college staff members, and 1 alumnus who all served in the military. Of this year’s honorees, 11 served in the Navy, 10 in the Army, 8 in the Marine Corps, 5 in the Air Force, and 3 in the National Guard.

The honorees are nominated by their college president. Presidents may nominate a student, member of the faculty or staff, or an alumnus of the college who are veterans or active-service members and who exemplify characteristics of honor, courage, commitment, integrity, duty, respect, discipline and sacrifice.

“Our college communities are strengthened by the presence on campus of veterans and active-duty personnel – as students, faculty, staff and alumni,” Tydings said. “They and the experiences and perspectives they bring are an important part of the broad diversity of people and backgrounds on our campuses that benefits everyone.

“We are committed to serving them as they served our country. It’s a privilege to honor them, not only on Veterans Day but all year,” the chancellor said. “I thank our presidents, our faculty and our entire campus communities for their work in ensuring that veterans are served and welcomed.”

That commitment is underscored by the system’s proud and active participation in the state’s VETS Campus program. All 13 TBR community colleges are now certified VETS Campuses, which means they prioritize outreach to veterans, allocate resources for veterans’ successful transition from military service to college enrollment, and successfully deliver services that create a supportive environment where student veterans can prosper while pursuing their education.

The VETS Campus program was established by the Tennessee Veterans Education Transition Support (VETS) Act, enacted by the Tennessee General Assembly in 2014. The statute details a rigorous set of requirements colleges and universities must meet to earn certification. The Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC) administers the program, awards the certifications and monitors for ongoing compliance with the requirements.

The primary requirements for VETS Campus certification also include mentoring and support programs for student veterans; creating and maintaining a process for assessing prior learning that grants academic credit to veterans for transferable training and experience attained through their military service; conducting annual surveys of student veterans’ views, needs, issues and suggestions, and providing special orientation programs for student veterans.

To learn more about Roane State's commitment to assisting active-duty service members, veterans, reservists, guardsmen and family members using their VA educational benefits, visit

Information on resources for veterans interested in pursuing their education is available at THEC's Veterans Education website.

Additional information on financial assistance, academic credit for military training and experience and other resources for veterans is available on TBR's Veterans and Military Families Support page.

Front and back view of a challenge coin.

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