TCC receives grant to help veterans

Published 5:42 pm Saturday, October 29, 2016

Tidewater Community College recently received its third consecutive federal grant for its commercial bus and truck program for veterans and their spouses.

“We are really excited we are approved again for it,” said Alesia Wroten, recruitment and job placement coordinator for the TCC trucking program.

This year, the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration awarded the college $149,967, which will be applied to next year’s courses, according to Wroten.

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To date, TCC has received more than $457,000 from the department, according to a TCC press release. The grants benefit more than 400 students nationwide, including 35 at TCC.

The grant, put in place by the college’s Center for Military and Veterans Education, provides free training for veterans and their spouses in one of the region’s most in-demand industries.

Students who are not veterans or spouses pay $2,900 per student, which includes books, equipment and other materials.

The program’s began in January of last year. It teaches students the fundamentals of commercial driving. Over the course of the eight-week program, students engage in classroom and in-field training.

For each semester, both the morning and night classes total to more than 40 students, including up to 10 veterans.

“This is a hard class, and our instructors take it very seriously,” Wroten said.

“If you bring your total dedication and focus, you will do well,” said Wallace Miller, the program’s lead instructor.

“You have to have motor and hand-eye coordination.”

In the early weeks of the program, students become familiar with the basics of commercial driving. In the closing weeks, students are given the opportunity to drive in the Franklin and Windsor areas.

In the final week of the program, students test for their licenses at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Miller said the veterans’ pass rate is around 98 percent.

Robert Battle, an Army Reserves veteran, said the program has been “life-changing.”

Battle, who participated in the January 2015 course, said despite the program’s challenges, it prepared him for the workforce.

“They gave us a great foundation,” he said. “The instructors were tough on us. But now I understand why.”

“I couldn’t imagine being out here without it.”

Battle received his first trucking job a few days after graduating in March of last year.

Miller hopes the program will continue to service deserving veterans and their spouses.

“Our legacy is producing a safe commercial motor vehicle operation — with a focus on safety and professionalism,” he said.

For more information on the grant program, contact Wroten at 822-7714 or