ETSU’s Office of Veterans Affairs has sought to assist veterans in the transition from military to student life for years.

To aid in this goal, ETSU recently hired retired U.S. Army Col. Antonio “Tony” Banchs to be the head of the department. Banchs, who replaced former director Mark Tipton on Sept. 22, is ready to make meaningful changes during his time as director of the program.

“I’d like to help (ETSU President Brian Noland) achieve his goal of increasing enrollment,” Banchs said.

While ETSU currently has a small but thriving community of veteran students, Banchs is optimistic that he can increase those veteran enrollment numbers.

“I’ve been issued the task of doubling veteran enrollment, and I would like to get us to 1,000 veteran students or more,” Banchs said.

But Banchs doesn’t just want to increase veteran enrollment. He also hopes to increase retention.

“One of the main things is to retain veteran students that are here now,” Banchs said.

According to Banchs, the Office of Veterans Affairs provides many services to make sure that veterans remain enrolled.  

“We provide tutoring support and try to make sure that they graduate here and that they don’t leave us because their benefits have expired,” Banchs said.

When asked why he was motivated to fulfill this position, Banchs cited his many years of military service.

“I spent 27 years active duty in army, and I was enlisted in the reserves before that,” Banchs said. “Most recently, my experience has been 15 years of living overseas in Morocco, Kuwait, Yemen and Jerusalem, and I also did two tours in Germany.”

After 32 years of service, Banchs left his job at the Pentagon to come work at ETSU. Because he’s spent most of his life moving, Banchs considers Johnson City to be his first permanent home.

His experience in the military is what drives him to see veterans like himself succeed through continuing education.

“I want to make sure that veterans remain successful both as students and as people,” Banchs said.