Veteran Students Have Special Needs

Colleges seem to be adept at recruiting veterans but are they adept at serving veterans?  Are colleges taking steps to aid veterans as they face tremendous obstacles in their path of attaining a college degree?

After World War II, many U.S. veterans returned home and decided to attend college.  The GI Bill is still an incentive for the majority of those enlisting in the military.

Colleges that enroll military veterans need to have the resources, support and advocacy for military veterans to succeed in higher education and the ability to ensure they will graduate. Many colleges are unprepared to deal with the unique needs of former service members.  Without special attention many student veterans will fail to graduate.

The Post 9/11 GI Bill gives they the opportunity to do something that is constructive for their minds.  A college degree gives them a mission and allows them to move forward in life.

Strategies do exist that help keep veterans in school.  They are specialized orientation programs, helping veterans connect with one another, training faculty and staff on challenges veterans face that offer more counseling and financial aid.  However, surveys show that many schools are lacking in such efforts.

Veteran students receive lower levels of campus support than non-veterans.  Veterans are transitioning from a regimented environment to a college environment where there is less direction. A course to help veterans adjust to the classroom, learn about programs and share their experiences with other students might be beneficial.

Veterans are used to a structured environment where they are given orders and they follow them.  Veterans need more supervision and follow through from their counselors. Academic support programs and services, like veteran-focused tutoring, advising, mentoring and counseling are needed.  Programs should provide specific advice for veterans.

Student veterans that are supported by their colleges and universities attain higher grades and higher graduation rates that their peers.  More than 500,000 veterans have used the benefits offered to them through the Post-9/11 GI Bill.  That number will probably rise as more troops come home.  Some 300,000 members of the military transition back to civilian life every year.

Those making the transition are faced with a disconcerting veteran unemployment rate, particularly for the youngest group of veterans. Veterans without a degree face even more daunting barriers since the unemployment rate for high school graduates is generally about twice that of college graduates.

Operation College Promise (OCP) is a policy, research and information program supporting the postsecondary education advancement of service members and veterans of the United States armed Forces.  OCP is developing the first multi-state, cross-institutional Veterans’ Graduation Probability Indexes (GPI) to analyze the progress of student veterans.  The GPI will provide the ongoing assessment of the progress of veteran students.   It is designed to begin the process of reviewing progress toward graduation.

It is one thing to get a veteran student to a college campus, but if that veteran student doesn’t receive support services they will not get a degree.  That would be a tragic loss for those who have served the United States with their lives on the line.

Authored by Staff Writer Carol Miraula.

California Veterans Dependents Education Assistance

Did you know that California State Colleges, Universities and Community Colleges will waive fees for those who serve under the circumstances below? This is known as “Veterans Dependents Educational Assistance” and it is an awesome education benefit. The children and spouses of service connected disabled veterans can attend free. These are education benefits in addition to the those offered to service members directly in the Post 9/11 GI Bill and the Montgomery GI Bill. You have earned these benefits so please use them and have your family members use them. Education is the key to a better life and a better job opportunity. is the Go To Site For Education for Military, Education For Veterans, Education for Spouses and Education for Military Dependents.

The dependent child, spouse or unmarried surviving spouse of a service-connected disabled or service-connected deceased veteran may be entitled to tuition and fee waiver benefits at any campus of the California State University system, University of California or California Community College system. To be eligible, the student must:

  • Have a parent who is a disabled veteran (0% or more disabled), or
  • Have a spouse who is service-connected (S/C) deceased or rated 100% S/C disabled.
  • Be a child earning less than $11,702 per year (student’s income, not parents’). Note: there is no income limit for a spouse or children of S/C deceased or 100% S/C disabled veterans.
  • Attend a California Community College, California State University, or a University of California school.
  • Provide proof of the student’s relationship to the veteran such as a copy of a birth or marriage certificate.

To obtain complete eligibility requirements and assistance in applying for these valuable benefits, please contact your local County Veterans Service Office or your school’s veterans office. Contact information for the veterans or financial aid office for many California public colleges and universities is available from the Education section CDVA’s California Veterans Resources Database.

You may also contact CalVet at (916) 653-2573 or by mail:
California Department of Veterans Affairs /> Division of Veterans Services
1227 O Street, Suite 105
Sacramento CA 95814

You may also download an application form to fill out. When the form is completed, contact your nearest County Veterans Service Office (CVSO).

Civilian Certification For Veterans

President Obama announced a new initiative that will allow some U.S. service members to receive civilian credentials and licenses for skills they learn in the military. This effort is aimed at boosting employment among post-9/11 veterans. Service members obtain skills while serving and those skills should be transferable to the private sector. All too often, however, these talented and dedicated individuals face barriers that can make it difficult to find jobs that make use of their skills.

In the private sector individual States set requirements to obtain certification and licenses. A military medic might have saved many lives in battle but that does not qualify that medic for certification to obtain a civilian EMT job. A military truck driver is not automatically certified to operate a rig in the private sector.

A Defense Department task force is working with major U.S. credentialing agencies for engineering, logistics, machining, and maintenance and welding skills to get “industry-recognized, nationally-portable certifications. Obtaining certification in the military is no guarantee of getting a job post-service but it is another step in helping service members who are transitioning into civilian life to find jobs.

The Post-9/11 GI Bill provides more opportunities for veterans to receive reimbursement for pursued education and certification. However, Veterans can only apply these benefits to licensing *or* certification exams that are approved by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Members of the armed forces have fought gallantly and were trained for military jobs by the best. Their experience and qualifications should not be wasted. They should be given every opportunity to succeed in civilian life. Members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families make great sacrifices in the service of our Nation. When their service is concluded, we owe it to our veterans and their families to help them accomplish a successful transition to the civilian labor market.

Occupational certification represents an excellent opportunity for displaced workers to learn a new skill and transition into a new and rewarding career. is the Go To Site for jobs across the board requiring certification and licensure. Check us out.

President Obama Executive Order Regarding Veterans Education understands the many sacrifices made by those who have served. Veterans have earned generous veteran education benefits provided in the Post 9/11 GI Bill. The Post 9/11 GI Bill has become a revenue generator for many veteran colleges, veteran universities, vocational schools and certificate programs for Veterans especially in these challenging economic times.

We don’t want our Veterans who have written a blank check for everything up to and including their lives to waste their education benefits with schools that do not deliver *or* deceive them. makes every effort to make sure that the schools on our website are the best. We also take additional steps and encourage veteran schools to partner with groups that serve this community. We encourage colleges and universities to open Veteran Student Clubs so that there is a place to meet and learn from other student veterans. We also encourage veteran schools to support and use groups such as our friends at Give An Hour that provides free and private mental health counseling to Veterans and their loved ones. School and education is also a transition with its own set of challenges.

If you are a Veteran Student, please share with us your experiences, both the positive and negative with the school you attend. Email us at: [email protected]

President Obama signed an Executive Order to aid veteran’s education goals. This Executive Order, signed April 27, sets out “Principles of Excellence” that schools must meet to receive military and veterans education funding. They include ending “unduly aggressive” recruiting techniques, giving prospective students information on federal financial aid options and expected tuition costs, and receiving accreditation for programs before opening them for enrollment.

The Post-9/11 GI Bill offers financial support for veterans” education, leading some marketers to target vets with deceptive advertising about college opportunities. The President signed this Executive Order to curb these abuses. But the order provides only vague guidance on how those principles will be enforced, particularly when it comes to Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits. For a law to be effective it must be enforced.

The Executive Order states that the VA “shall also notify all institutions participating in the Post-9/11 GI Bill program that they are strongly encouraged to comply with the Principles and shall post on the Department”s website those that do.” Where will we find the names of the institutions that do not comply?

The Post-9/11 GI Bill, which became effective in August 2009 mainly for military members with at least 90 days of aggregate service after September 20, 2001, provided “unprecedented access to virtually any university in our country and overseas,” said Michael Dakduk. He added that “The Post 9/11 GI Bill drives some schools into targeting veterans and their federal tuition assistance”. Michael Dakduk, who served in the Marine Corps and is now Executive Director of Student Veterans of America, an organization whose mission is to provide vets in higher education and following graduation with resources and support.

Reports of aggressive and deceptive targeting by educational institutions toward service members and veterans, particularly by for-profit career colleges, moved President Obama to sign the Executive Order, which requires colleges to provide more information to veterans such as the likelihood of military members completing a school”s programs prior to them enrolling.

The transition from a military to civilian lifestyle could create culture shock for many veterans, especially life on an academic campus. That”s why speaking to a fellow veteran before enrolling in a school is also very important.

Under the Executive Order, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Education Department”s “Know Before You Owe” financial aid form will also be required to be made available to every college student participating in the Defense Department”s tuition assistance program that includes nearly 2,000 schools. This form provides information about tuition and fees, estimated student loan debt upon graduation, graduation rates, among other information.

Dakduk advises veterans to visit the Post-9/11 GI Bill”s website from the Veteran Affairs Department,, to find out how much tuition assistance may be available to them and which schools offer supplementary assistance that may support a specific career.

Education Center at The Wall

The Education Center at The Wall is an unmatched educational facility that will be built on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., near the Vietnam Veterans and Lincoln Memorials. It will tell the stories of the individuals who served and sacrificed in Vietnam and, in doing so, will teach visitors about the values embodied by all those who serve in all of America’s wars.

The centerpiece of the Center will be a Wall of Photos, showcasing pictures of the more than 58,000 whose names are on The Wall. Visitors to the Memorial feel the impact of seeing all those names together, as they walk past row after row of black granite panels with line after line of names. In the Center, visitors will experience those names individually—learning stories about their lives and seeing how those left behind remember their loved ones.

Remembrance is the theme for another exhibit, which will show some of the more than 100,000 items that have been placed at The Wall in tribute over the years. These items are often poignant, sometimes unusual and always personal. They give visitors a glimpse into the lives of those lost and how families have continued on without their loved ones.

Seeing how these families are altered is the best illustration of the true cost of war.

Other exhibits will help visitors—especially those too young to remember—learn some of the key dates of the Vietnam War.

The Center will teach visitors about the values embodied by all of our nation’s service members, values such as loyalty, duty, respect, service, honor, integrity and courage, and illustrate these values of service through the lens of the Vietnam War. But as they leave, visitors will be reminded that these characteristics have been with us since the early days of our nation. They will see images of people who served in all of America’s wars, from the Revolutionary War to Iraq and Afghanistan, reminding us that service to country is one of America’s enduring legacies.

New School Year, New Lessons Learned

As the beginning of a new school year races closer, we are yet again facing the same dilemma we find year after year: Spider Man or Cars folders?

The end of summer is an exciting time for both children and parents. Kids are enjoying the last of their free time, stretching out daily by the pool or playing in the park until night fall. Parents are finishing the budget, setting up doctor appointments and stocking up on lunch bags and poster board.

It’s times like these that the weight of a deployed military member sits heavy on the shoulders of those left to keep the pieces together. One parent scheduling parties and appointments, driving to the mall for new clothes, organizing school supplies, registering for school, planning meals, budgeting the checkbook, etc. It can be overwhelming to say the least.

In all the hustle and bustle of preparing for a new school year, it is important to take time out for family. If possible, schedule a Skype chat session with your deployed loved one to let him or her get a chance to join in on the excitement. Have your children write letters to their mother, father or sibling serving overseas that capture the joy, questions, fears or goals about the upcoming year. Make this family time a priority in your school planning. It will help ease the stress and relieve some of the “single parent” pressures.

Take time out for yourself, as well. Especially as the school year progresses, you will be faced with multiple frustrations, aggravations and stresses that come with the territory and it is imperative you are braced to deal with them. Have your service member talk with your children about being good students, finishing homework on time, going to bed early and simply listening to you with the least amount of struggle. These small pieces of advice will sink in more effectively coming from the deployed family member.

Above all, remember your support systems: your friends, your family, your military spouse support group. All of these will serve as crutches in times of distress and will help you get through the school year with as much ease as possible.

So, when the smallest decisions seem to be the toughest (i.e. which superhero folders to purchase), remember that you’re not alone.

Do you have questions or suggestions for single parent families as they prepare for the upcoming school year? Please send them to [email protected].