At Alabama’s Troy University, familiarity with and respect for the U.S. Military starts at the top: Its current Chancellor is a Marine veteran and his predecessor was Commander of the Alabama Air National Guard.
Troy is proud to tell its military students, “I’ve got your six,” military parlance for “I’ve got your back.” The ‘six’ refers to the six o’clock position, which designates the back of a military formation. Troy University takes that phrase seriously with the honored tradition of allegiance and support it offers its enlisted and veteran students, and their families.
One way the school makes good on that promise to the military is through its unique TROY for Troops program, which provides the university’s military-affiliated and veteran students with dedicated support. “When military personnel come to Troy, their transition isn’t done yet,” said retired Navy Captain Dave Barron, Associate Vice Chancellor for Military Affairs, who directs the TROY for Troops Center. “They’ve been working in a military-skill environment, and now they need to transition to an academic-skill environment.”
“We have students with limitations due to their service, such as traumatic brain injuries or post-traumatic stress, and we facilitate support in the right areas: adaptive needs, personal counseling, academic support, career counseling and more. This type of support is a university-wide issue,” he continued. TROY for Troops centers are located on the Troy and Montgomery campuses, as well as a virtual TROY for Troops Center on Blackboard.
On the Troy campus, TROY for Troops is based in the Trojan Center, a student center that includes a food court, university post office and store, ballrooms, conference rooms, fitness center, faculty lounge and theater. It’s also the home of the university bookstore, which Barnes & Noble College has managed since 2005.
“We’re continuing to build our relationship with TROY for Troops,” explains Aliza McGee, who has served as store manager for four years. “As the TROY for Troops program was lifting off about two years ago, we began offering decals to help support the launch.” The bookstore was also instrumental in designing — and then donating — polo shirts for the TROY for Troops staff to create a uniform look and help brand the initiative. “We’re also happy to provide a key spot in the bookstore for TROY for Troops fundraising during especially busy times, such as sports games, alumni and veterans’ weekends.”
McGee’s ongoing assistance recently earned her a Certificate of Appreciation at a TROY for Troops luncheon. “It was an opportunity to say ‘thank you’ for her support,” explained Capt. Barron.
Troy University’s formal relationship with the Department of Defense began in 1950, with the establishment of an on-base operation at nearby Fort Rucker, Alabama. Today, Troy counts some 60 flag officers among the ranks of its alumni and has a presence on or near more than 30 military installations around the world.
More than 6,000 current Troy students serve or have served our country, which provides the bookstore with some very real opportunities to support this next step in their education. For students eligible for Chapter 31 funding under the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program, the store carries laptops and software that can be charged directly to the fund. “Instead of ordering online and waiting for reimbursement after paying out of pocket, students can have us bill Chapter 31 directly,” said McGee. “This makes it so much easier for our military students, especially for those who may not have the money to pay out of pocket up front.”
As the program progresses, the bookstore constantly reevaluates how best to support those changing needs. “We’ve worked with the campus ROTC to create a special section for ROTC books they suggest we carry in the bookstore,” McGee explained. “Last Veterans Day, we developed Troy gear that incorporated the American flag, which our University coaches wore on the field and players all wore the same ball caps.”
That level of commitment is felt throughout the University. “This is what we’re here for, to help the school and its students in any way we can,” McGee emphasized. “TROY for Troops is a relatively new division of our school, but we’re happy to provide the best learning materials and merchandise to support our students as this important program grows.”