Army Officer John Haynes Finds Success Through Belmont's Military Support

John Haynes

Army Officer John Haynes Finds Success Through Belmont's Military Support

May 7, 2024 | by Cara Davis

John Haynes came to Belmont in 2022 as an active duty soldier completing his bachelor's degree through the Army's competitive Green-to-Gold program. Last weekend, he graduated and will soon be commissioned as a Second Lieutenant before heading to Alabama for helicopter flight training.  

From High School Graduate to Army Officer

Haynes, who grew up in Loganville, Georgia, enlisted in the Army in 2018, just two months after graduating from Walnut Grove High School. "College was something that I wanted to do, but I didn't really have a direction that I wanted to go," he said. "I wasn't really sure about myself, so I kind of wanted to figure out a little bit more about myself and I saw the Army as a way to do that."

He served as a military police officer, deploying once to Lebanon in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. In September 2021, while working towards his associate's degree online, a mentor told Haynes about the Green-to-Gold program, which allows active-duty soldiers to attend college full-time while still receiving military pay and benefits. Haynes, who was newly married to his wife Tori, decided to apply.

John and Tori HaynesUnleashing Potential at Belmont

The transformation Haynes, who majored in liberal studies in the adult degree program in Interdisciplinary Studies & Global Education, has undergone during his time at Belmont is remarkable. "The military taught me discipline and teamwork, but Belmont helped me find direction and unleash my potential,” he said. “The support I received here gave me the confidence to pursue dreams I never thought possible, like becoming a helicopter pilot.”

When he began his educational journey, Haynes admitted to lacking confidence in his abilities. "I remember my first class with Professor Yvonne Bland,” he said. “I was nervous about transitioning from online classes to the rigorous in-person experience at a private Christian university. But Professor Bland was so encouraging and helpful. After that first class, I knew I could succeed at Belmont.”

Professor Bland passed away in January 2023, and she was one of many who provided exceptional support throughout his educational journey, including the Veteran Success Team. "From the moment we spoke on the phone to discuss my degree path, [Kim Powell] was nothing short of amazing," Haynes said. Powell helped Haynes with everything from transfer credits to campus tours.

Jennifer Kiev assisted Haynes in resolving some financial challenges, ultimately enabling him to graduate debt-free through a Belmont Veterans Scholarship fund. Daina Hunter, a veteran herself, provided expert guidance on VA benefits from start to finish. Beyond the supportive environment, Haynes points to the wider community fostered at Belmont, from the cafeteria employees to the folks behind the counter at the FitRec Center.

Expanding Community and Pursuing Dreams

This sense of community extended beyond the Belmont campus. "Attending Belmont and participating in ROTC at Vanderbilt has expanded my community,” he said. “I've met incredible people from diverse backgrounds, which is something I love about the Army. Moving to Nashville with my wife Tori has been an amazing experience.”

"I met my wife in February of 2019, soon after I got to Fort Campbell," he said. "She grew up in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, which is a little town really close to the base. She stuck out a deployment with me, which is a lot to ask of a girlfriend. We got married in September of 2021, and we have been happily married ever since. She is the best thing that has ever happened to me. She has really been behind me through all of this. She's an assistant manager at a credit union, so she's putting up with a lot since her husband is just having fun going to school."

Haynes' personal growth and newfound confidence have positioned him for success as he takes on the challenges of being an Army officer and helicopter pilot. "When I told my wife I was considering becoming a helicopter pilot, she thought it sounded really cool,” he said. “So that helped.” [laughs] “Her support and encouragement, along with the unwavering support from Belmont's Veteran Success Team, gave me the confidence to pursue this unlikely dream. They have treated me with the highest level of respect, and they have made my time at this University outstanding.”

"The military taught me discipline and teamwork, but Belmont helped me find direction and unleash my potential."

John Haynes

Learn more about Belmont's support of veteran and military-affiliated students.