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Student veteran and Purple Heart recipient finds support at TCC


o1.jpgOliver Clemons Jr. doesn’t back down in the face of adversity. When he and his team of Marines were engaged by an enemy sniper in Afghanistan, they quickly worked together to neutralize the threat. Moments later, their vehicle hit a roadside bomb that injured his vertebrae and almost cost him his life.

Clemons was awarded a Purple Heart, one of the nation’s highest honors, for the wounds he suffered in combat. It was then that he decided to tackle another challenge: adjusting to civilian life and enrolling in Tallahassee Community College’s Pat Thomas Law Enforcement Academy.

“I’ve got to have something different every day, so it was either going to be firefighting or law enforcement for me,” said Clemons. “You get to help people and serve people, so that’s why I chose it.”

Veterans that go from combat to college often face difficulty in the transition to civilian and academic life. Aside from physical or mental injuries, many experience readjustment issues that could potentially hold them back.

“It’s a whole different ball game,” said Clemons, who served two tours of duty overseas. “It’s a culture shock. I just got back from Afghanistan this past October, and a couple months later, I’m sitting in a classroom.”

“They have a good program here and a lot of experience from a lot of instructors. I think it’s very helpful.”

TCC offers support for veterans like Clemons and provides resources to ease the transition. Clemons qualifies for the Purple Heart Waiver, which covers tuition and fees toward a degree or certificate up to 110% of the required hours for the program. He also credits TCC’s Veterans Success Center as an invaluable resource for support.

“It’s very convenient,” said Clemons. “They have computers and counseling just for veterans to hang out. They have a veterans group, they go out to dinners, they help you with employment, and they have recruiters from different companies come out to visit the academy.”

Clemons ultimately wants to become a homicide investigation detective, and he believes other veterans with similar goals will find TCC’s law enforcement program to be a great fit.

“They have a good program here and a lot of experience from a lot of instructors. I think it’s very helpful.”

To hear more from Oliver, view his feature below from TCC22. For more information about the Veterans Success Center, contact (850) 201-9812 or


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