Top Degrees For Veterans

Top Degrees for veterans

By Debbie Gregory.

One of the key perks to serving in the U.S. military is the GI Bill for obtaining a good education for veterans. Pre-planning how and when you will use your veteran education benefits will ultimately give you the best bang for your buck.

There are a number of degree majors while you are pursuing your veteran education that will transition more easily from your military service to your civilian career.

A career in the medical field offers numerous options for those who have served. In addition to physicians, there are great opportunities for nurses, medics, and physical therapists.

While all military personnel receive basic medical knowledge, those who specialize in nursing are in-demand, and will be for years to come. There are also numerous sub-specialties within this career path.

Serving in the military takes a toll on the body, even for those who have not suffered a specific injury. Those who work in rehabilitating the body and helping individuals return to their regular, daily lives would do well in pursuing a degree in physical therapy.

Medics who want to transition to a career as an emergency medical technician or a paramedic already know how to deal with emergency situations. Emergency medical technicians and paramedics are under constant pressure to respond to emergency situations in an effective and timely manner, so military medics will already have a head start on the competition when applying for this career.

Another career field that is a smooth transition from military to civilian career lies within the criminal justice system. A criminal justice degree can lead to a law enforcement career. And like a criminal justice degree, fire engineering/fire science degree aids in applying to law enforcement jobs, fire engineering and fire science careers. Most veterans are already physically and mentally capable of performing these jobs, and securing extra knowledge through education for veterans will only help qualify you further for these positions.

Another great option for veteran education are STEM careers- Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.   Although engineers need years of veteran education to obtain their degrees, the positions can be highly lucrative.

As the military is one of the highest users of technology, network administrators are always in demand. There are also numerous occupations within the military that require extensive computer use, such as programmers, coders, and developers.

Additionally, the need for information security professionals grows with each hack and cyber-attack. Many veterans who use their veteran education to go in to this industry are known as white-hat hackers or penetration testers.

So when considering the college for veterans you will chooses, remember to choose the one that will help you best transition for your long-term civilian career.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

DoD-funded School at Center of Federal Probes Over Suspected Chinese Military Ties

Yanping Chen Frame

By Debbie Gregory.

The University of Management and Technology (UMT), located in Arlington, Virginia, United States, is an accredited institution of higher education offering undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degree programs and professional development programs.

The school, based four miles from the Pentagon, has been at the center of multiple federal probes about its leadership’s alleged ties to the Chinese military and whether thousands of records from U.S. service members were compromised.

The U.S. taxpayer-funded school has a campus in Beijing and partnerships with universities around the world, and claims to have had 5,000 graduates in the last five years.

But the school’s leadership has drawn the attention of the FBI, the Justice Department, the Pentagon, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) since at least 2012 — and perhaps as early as 2009.

In December 2012, the FBI made two very public raids of UMT and the northern Virginia home of university president Yanping Chen Frame and its academic dean, her husband J. Davidson Frame.

Yet since those FBI raids, UMT has continued to collect more than $6 million from Defense Department tuition assistance programs as well as the Department of Veterans Affairs through the post-9/11 GI bill.

“It’s a bad deal for the soldiers, and it’s a bad deal for the taxpayer,” said Stephen Rhoads, a military veteran turned whistleblower who says he worked with the FBI on the case.

Chen, who appears to have served in the People’s Liberation Army, came to the United States in 1987 from Beijing on a non-immigrant visa with her daughter Lele Wang. She may have been a full colonel.

The Chinese government funded Chen’s research at George Washington University where she received a Ph.D. in Public Policy in 1999, the year after UMT was created.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Number of Veterans Studying Overseas on GI Bill is Rising


By Debbie Gregory.

Thanks to the Post-9/11 GI Bill, an increasing number of U.S. military veterans are completing degrees overseas at global universities.

Part of the draw is the cheaper tuition, thanks in part to the favorable exchange rate.

The VA’s list of approved international colleges now includes around 1,800 universities or training schools in more than 100 countries.

According to VA statistics, more than 2000 Post-9/11 GI Bill students pursued degrees overseas in fiscal year 2015.

U.S. veterans interested in pursuing an international education can either use the GI Bill Comparison Tool to review the VA’s approved list of universities. The tool can also show veterans which benefits package is their best option.

If a veteran’s preferred college is not on the approved list, he or she can apply to have the school added, provided it meets the VA’s eligibility requirements.

According to the VA website, one of the main requirements for attending a foreign school under the GI Bill is that the institution of higher learning will result in a college degree or equivalent. If eligible, the VA will issue the veteran a Certificate of Eligibility, which shows the quantity and duration of benefits. Veterans should secure this certificate before enrolling at a foreign university.

The VA says the Post-9/11 GI Bill pays up to $21,000 in tuition per year at approved foreign colleges, about $1,500 per month for housing and $1,000 annually for books.

The Post-9/11 GI Bill has also opened up global education opportunities to eligible veterans’ family members. Active-duty service members must plan to complete 10 years of service to be eligible to transfer some or all of the Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to a spouse or children.

If you decide to stay in the U.S. for your education, or you prefer to pursue an online degree, be sure to check out the directory of universities and colleges here.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

One Veteran’s Road to Entrepreneurship


By Debbie Gregory.

You may not have heard of professional comic book artist Derek Rodenbeck. His road to entrepreneurship has not been a smooth one, but his attitude is one of perseverance.

The Army sergeant returned home from a year’s deployment with post-traumatic stress disorder. Through no fault of his own, Rodenbeck was homeless for a while, living in his 1998 Subaru with his service dog, Kuma, a 140-pound Akita. He worked as a bouncer and occasionally competed in strongman contests.

In April, 2015, Rodenbeck had been one of 19 participants in St. Joseph’s University’s Veterans Entrepreneurial Jumpstart (VEJ) program, an all-expenses-paid business-development training program for disabled vets.

Participants completed online classes to develop a business plan, then spent seven days on campus with guest lecturers, panel discussions, one-on-one mentoring, and a Shark Tank-style presentation. Post class assistance included website development, tax and accounting assistance, and mentoring.

At the conclusion of his VEJ program, Rodenbeck impressed the panel of judges with his pitch for a line of clothing featuring artists’ designs.

“You are the canvas,” he said of the idea behind his brand. He planned to start with T-shirts, then expand to dresses, swimsuits, and jackets, and to have his own cut-and-sew facility.

Small-business reality interfered with that plan, however. He sold his first batch of 40 T-shirts for $20 each, but “was definitely in the red” and did not have the capital to keep going.

Recently Rodenbeck attended the awards dinner for this year’s VEJ class, where he impressed Ralph Galati, director of the Office of Veterans Services at St. Joe’s and co-creator of the entrepreneurial-training program.

“I noticed a different person that was not the quiet, reserved person” he met last year, Galati said. “I think we drew it out of him. You never know what little nugget you might drop in a class, and someone takes it and that seed germinates.”

“The struggle still exists but I’ve learned it’s how we adapt to the problems we face and utilize them to find solutions,” Rodenbeck said.

How long VEJ continues depends on how effectively Galati, a disabled Air Force vet and former Vietnam POW, meets his current mission: finding a financial backer.

Its seed money – a $1 million endowment by 1968 alum Frank Trainer – will fund the program through 2018, Galati said.

“We would love to have a local sponsor, a local large corporation or two, stand tall with decent money,” he said.

“These programs help disabled veterans realize their goals by providing education and mentorship services free of charge that are too often unaffordable for those who have served our country,” Galati said.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

St. Bonaventure University- A Great School for Veterans, A Great Place to Work


St. Bonaventure University (SBU) has long valued military veterans as an integral part of their campus community. Their new Student Veterans Center is staffed by two full-time employees, one full- time director, one full-time assistant director, and a half-time VISTA worker dedicated solely to the needs of veterans and their dependents as they transition from military to academic life. In addition, the University has had a chapter of the National Student Veterans Association.

The values SBU cherishes — discovery, community inclusiveness, service, and respect for the dignity and worth of each individual- — create a supportive, respectful environment for students, faculty and staff members. Situated in the peaceful surroundings of the Allegheny Mountains, the Main Campus offers the traditional program format. The second site, located on the Hilbert College Campus in Hamburg, NY, offers the weekend course format.

As the school expands to meet the needs of all their students, some employment opportunities have presented.

The School of Education has two tenure-track positions for Counselor Education at the Assistant or Associate Professor rank beginning fall 2017, and applications for these positions are invited.

One position is for a faculty member specializing in School Counseling and one is for Clinical Mental Health Counseling.  This position will include teaching master’s level courses in online, hybrid and face to face formats. Individuals from underrepresented groups are strongly encouraged to apply

Candidates must have: (1) an earned doctorate in Counselor Education is required and preference will be given to CACREP program graduates; (2) licensure as a professional counselor and/or certification as a professional school counselor; (3) experience as a school counselor or clinical mental health counselor;  (4) university teaching experience;  (5) expertise in online teaching and learning.

The successful candidate will teach graduate courses and advise students in the School Counseling and Clinical Mental Health Counseling programs.  Experience in addictions, multicultural counseling, diagnosis and treatment, research, and/or assessment is preferred.  Candidates should demonstrate excellence in teaching, the ability to work collaboratively with others, and a commitment to diversity and inclusion. Scholarly activity leading to publication in peer-reviewed journals is expected, as well as presentations at counseling conferences.   Experience with accreditation is a plus.  One successful candidate may serve as Program Director.

Candidates should submit curriculum vitae, letter of application, three letters of reference, and a sample of scholarly work via email to:  Dr. Nancy Casey, Interim Dean, School of Education; at [email protected]

St. Bonaventure University is an Equal Opportunity Employer, committed to fostering diversity in its faculty, staff and student body, and strongly encourages applications from the entire spectrum of a diverse community. In light of its commitment to create and maintain a safe learning and working environment, employment with St. Bonaventure University requires successful completion of a background screening. Unless otherwise provided by law, a criminal record will not automatically disqualify an individual from employment.

Veteran Education Disrupted by ITT Closure


By Debbie Gregory.

Valuable veteran education benefits could be affected for as many as 7,000 veteran students using their GI Bill benefits at ITT Technical Institute.

The company has shut its doors at all 137 locations over 38 states. ITT places blame for the closure on the U.S. Department of Education, which has stepped up oversight of for-profit colleges, and imposed tough financial sanctions against ITT over recruitment and financial aid practices

The Department of Education, which has online information and webinar Q&A sessions through September 22nd, banned the school from enrolling new students who used federal financial aid.

ITT’s career-focused degree programs in specialties mainly centered on technical fields, such as electronics technology, drafting, auto mechanics, nursing, criminal justice and information technology. Their personal, direct testimony ads from past and present students were a staple on television.

“The sudden shuttering of ITT Tech will hurt thousands of veterans who enrolled in search of a promising career but will receive an uncertain future instead,” said Rep. Mark Takano, (D-CA) a member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee.

Takano said student veterans often are targets of aggressive and even deceptive recruiting practices, noting that Corinthian Colleges and ITT Tech together received a total of $1 billion in GI Bill money between 2009 and 2015. Corinthian Colleges Inc. closed the doors on its remaining campuses following government allegations of falsified job placement rates.

Therefore, in order to make the most of your military education benefits, it is imperative that you do your homework (so to speak) before choosing a college, university or technical school. You may want to use The Department of Education’s College Scorecard to find the program that’s right for you.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Federal Court Upholds Texas Hazelwood Act Requirements


By Debbie Gregory.

A federal appeals court has upheld a much-watched Texas program that promises free college educations to military veterans if they lived in the state when they enlisted.

The Hazlewood Act, which dates back to the 1920s, is a State of Texas benefit that provides qualified Veterans, spouses, and dependent children with an education benefit of up to 150 hours of tuition exemption, including most fee charges, at public institutions of higher education in Texas. It does not include living expenses, books, or supply fees.

The Hazlewood Act was expanded in 2009 to include veterans who entered military service at a Texas installation.

The act was challenged by a veteran who enlisted in Georgia, and moved to Texas after he was discharged. On January 26, 2015, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas ruled that the requirement that Veterans must have entered service in Texas in order to be eligible to receive the Texas Hazlewood exemption of tuition and fees at public schools (the fixed point residency requirement) was unconstitutional.

The decision would have sent the program’s costs skyrocketing.

Texas appealed to the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled that Texas-residency rules were not unconstitutional, and said the state has the right to regulate its own education system.

Eligibility requirements include:

  • Entered the military service from Texas, or Home of Record at the time of entry into active duty was Texas, or was a Texas resident at the time of entry into military service
  • Served more than 180 days of federal military service- excluding Initial Entry Training (Unless otherwise permanently disabled or killed while on Active Duty prior to serving 180 days of federal military service.)
  • Received an Honorable Discharge or General Discharge under Honorable Conditions
  • Exhausted GI Bill benefits if eligible for Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits at the 100% rate
  • Reside in Texas during term of enrollment
  • Provide DD214 or equivalent supporting documentation
  • Meet the GPA requirement of the institution’s satisfactory academic progress policy in a degree or certificate program as determined by the institution’s financial aid policy and, as an undergraduate student, not be consideered to have attempted an excessive amount of credit hours.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Attorney Generals Demand Veteran Education Restored to Defrauded Veterans


By Debbie Gregory.

Numerous state attorney generals are speaking out on behalf of veterans who were defrauded of their veteran education by for-profit colleges.

The attorney generals (AGs) in eight states sent Secretary Bob McDonald a letter demanding restoration of GI Bill benefits. They allege that the for-profit colleges used deceptive tactics in recruiting veterans that slipped by the VA, denying them the quality veteran education that they would have received by attending non-predatory veteran schools.

Recruiters, who were more like heavy-handed salespeople,  used proven psychotherapy techniques to manipulate veterans into enrolling. Veterans used up their benefits on a worthless “education.”

“Veterans earn educational benefits through their heroic service to our country… They should not return home and become targets of predatory, bogus colleges whose only interest in our veterans is to profit off them,” said Illinois AG Lisa Madigan. “It’s critical that our tax dollars allow student veterans to get a true education and the opportunities it provides.”

The aforementioned colleges provided such low quality educations that other colleges would not accept them for transfer credits. Graduates were promised jobs that never materialized.

To protect veterans education moving forward, the AGs are suggesting the VA adopt four strategies.

Exercise current federal statutory authority to provide relief to these veterans

Trigger Automatic Reviews

Take Proactive Steps To Provide Full and Accurate Information

Increase Cooperation.

For-profit colleges can receive up to 90 percent of their revenue from taxpayer dollars, with the additional revenue frequently coming from veterans’ benefits and private student loans.

These students—including veterans—enrolled to become equipped for the workforce, but often they didn’t get what they need. Instead, they found confusing or misleading information, excessive costs, poor quality, low completion rates, and programs that provide training for low-wage occupations or, in some cases, where there simply are no jobs.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Jobs for Military Veterans Remains a Top Priority

veterans resources

By Debbie Gregory.

Jobs for military veterans is one of the main issues facing today’s veterans, with the unemployment rate for veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan remaining the highest among all American veterans.

According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics report, the 2014 unemployment rate for Gulf War-era II veterans, although down nearly 2 percent from the previous year, was at 7.2 percent. This was the highest amongst all veteran groups.

But the news isn’t all bad. The Department of Veteran Affairs reports that veteran school benefits, such as the Post 9/11 GI Bill, have impacted the unemployment figures as many veterans have decided to pursue an education instead of a getting a job right away. Additionally, female veterans have a completion rate 5 percent higher than female students in the general population.

So while women veterans have a higher unemployment rate, those who attend school and/or secure an employment opportunity are faring better than their non-veteran counterparts, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics report.

When it comes to finding jobs for military veterans, Hiring Our Heroes is a nationwide initiative to help veterans, transitioning service members, and military spouses find meaningful employment opportunities.

To date, the initiative has found jobs for more than 27,000 veterans and military spouses. The listing of Veteran Job Fairs on includes Hiring Our Heroes on-site events that connect veterans directly with employers, as well as many other resources for employment and education including Post 9/11 GI Bill information, the Annual Stipend for books & supplies , a Job Board with thousands of openings, and our Virtual Job Fair.

But finding a job and staying at that job long term can be a challenge for many veterans. In order to avoid attrition, one of the best veteran job tips is to begin planning for a civilian job anywhere from 10 to 12 months before transitioning out of the military.

When looking for veteran jobs, don’t rule out working for the federal government. According to the President’s Council on Veterans Employment, in 2014, the percentage of veteran new hires hit a new high of 33.2 percent, surpassing the previous mark set in FY 2013, when 31 percent of all new Federal civilian hires were veterans.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Are For-Profit Colleges the Best Choice for Veteran Education?

for profit schools

By Debbie Gregory.

A number of for-profit colleges have been characterized as preying on those seeing to use their veteran education benefits. These schools are often guilty of inflated job promises and under-delivering on education. With more than 1 million veterans and their families taking advantage of the Post-9/11 GI Bill to attend college, are for-profit school the best choice?

It’s no secret that the for-profit sector has aggressively aimed its marketing to members of the military. A 2014 Senate report found that eight for-profit college companies received $2.9 billion in Post-9/11 GI Bill veteran benefits, approximately one quarter of all the funds spent on GI Bill benefits in 2012-2013.

Further, due to a loophole in current law, veteran education students are unusually attractive to for-profit colleges. First, veterans eligible for Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits offer for-profit colleges a guaranteed stream of federal revenue but, unlike the students attending the colleges with federal student loans, do not present a risk of subsequent default.

In addition, the Higher Education Act requires that all proprietary (for-profit) colleges demonstrate compliance with the “90/10 rule” meaning that at least ten percent of revenues must come from sources other than federal financial aid funds authorized by Title IV of the Higher Education Act. However, as currently written, federal military educational benefits including Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits are not counted as federal financial aid and in fact are counted on the “10” side of the revenue calculation.

What makes for-profit schools so attractive to this audience, given the fact that on average, for-profit schools cost twice as much as educating veterans at public colleges?

First off, as previously stated, for-profit schools are the ones targeting and courting these potential students. They make for easy acceptance and easy enrollment in order to cash in on veteran resources.

Traditional colleges and universities should be doing much more to reach out to help those who served reach their education goals. These nontraditional students often come out of the military with unique skill sets. These schools need to let veterans know that they are not only welcome, but they are accepted and valued. Becoming a “Veteran Friendly” or Yellow Ribbon School would go a long way to that end.

Also, transition resources should focus on giving advice to those who want to further their education. Providing more guidance and knowledge on how to make that transition is crucial: when to apply; what kind of credentials schools are looking for; how to package yourself as an applicant. If a veteran needs to beef up their academic credentials, then attending a community college is a great alternative.

The bottom line is that not-for-profit schools need to market their veteran education value. In the long run, it will greatly benefit the schools , the veterans, and the tax payers.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.