By Joe Silva
On February 26, 2015, legislation was introduced in the U.S. Senate that would reauthorize and improve a grant program designed to assist colleges and universities in establishing, maintaining, improving, and operating Veteran Student Centers.
The Senate bill is titled The Veteran Education Empowerment Act of 2015 S.604 and was sponsored by Senator Jon Tester from Montana.
According to the text in S.604, Congress found that over 1 million Veterans attended college in 2014. Veteran-students face unique challenges that many traditional and even other non-traditional students don’t, including age differences, significant time away from academic life, obligations to their families, and even service-connected disabilities.
Congressionally sponsored studies reported that many Veterans struggle in the classroom and often feel isolated and under served on campus. This leads many Veterans to drop out of college before they complete their desired degree or certification program.
Veterans of the Post-9/11 era have the highest unemployment rate among Veterans. Dropping out of college does not help to improve this statistic.
Studies have shown that among the most beneficial resources for Veteran-students are each other. Veterans on campus provide each other with comradery, a sense of belonging, and serve as mentors to each other. Congressional studies and studies carried out by student groups and educators concur; providing a centralized location on campus for Veteran-students for information, resources, and a hub to connect to other Veterans has proven to increase their academic success.
The Veteran Education Empowerment Act of 2015 would empower the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education to award no more than thirty grants to institutions of higher learning that have a significant population of Veteran-students, and students who are current members of the active-duty military, National Guard or Reserves. The grants would be awarded for periods of four years and will not exceed $500,000 each.
The use of grant funding is to be used to establish, maintain, improve, and operate a Veteran Student Center. Grant recipients can also use portions of the funds to carry out supportive services for Veterans on their campus, such as assistance with admissions and transfer credits.
At the time it was introduced, S.604 was read twice and then referred to the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.
As a Veteran-student, I can see the benefits in approving the Veteran Education Empowerment Act of 2015. Most of the rules and policies for admissions and tuition payments are unique for Veterans, and not every staff member on every campus knows this. Veteran-students need a place on campus to go to get all of their questions answered by a staff member who knows how their individual school processes benefits.
On behalf of those who served, who are now or will someday be enrolled in college, please contact your senator and tell them to back S.604, the Veteran Education Empowerment Act of 2015 for their constituency.
Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.
Military Connection: Legislation Expands Programs for Veteran-Students: By Joe Silva