Local father and veteran graduates, begins job hunt


Reporter- Briana Conner
Photographer- Barry Stevenson

MARTIN, Tn.—  Businesses have pledged to hire or train another 435,000 veterans and military spouses within the next five years as part of President Obama's Joining Forces program for veterans and military families.  A local man and father who fought in Operation Desert Storm says he's hoping to be one of those new hires.

Johnny Dyer graduated this weekend after more than 20 years of trying. He's combining an impressive resume with a shiny new degree and a heart full of dreams.

"College was the last thing on my mind," said Dyer, but after fighting in Operation Desert Storm, his vision for his life changed. "After seeing some of the horrors of war, it made me make my mind up that there's maybe something else in store for me," he said.

He was admitted to UTM's Second Chance program and survived his first few semesters before putting his education on pause. Dyer said, "The rigors of trying to work and raise young kids at home... I decided to stay at Goodyear instead of finishing my degree."

He got active in his community and at Goodyear until the plant closed in 2011. That's when Dyer decided it was time to get serious about finishing his degree. He went back to UTM as a non-traditional student and became a standout among Skyhawks. Dyer started the campus' first veterans organization since the 1950s. He said, "Our motto was to serve the living by honoring the fallen."

It's something he said he couldn't have accomplished if he had taken a different path as a teen.  "One thing that I have more than a degree is my life experiences. I would not take that away for anything," said Dyer.

Now, with an education to back up those experiences, Dyer said the fight is over, but the job hunt is on. "I'm hoping to be a high school or junior high history teacher. I want to be able to share some of my experiences with the students to help them along their path," he said.

Along with a Bachelors Degree in Secondary Education, Dyer has also earned the Harold Love Community Award, the Outstanding Secondary 7-12 Student Award, the Gallien Award for leadership and academic excellence, and the Charles "Butch" Newby Scholarship for excellence in history.