One of the most critical issues facing transitioning veterans today is education. As the United States continues to deploy troops abroad, a steady stream of veterans transitioning and entering the civilian workforce will extend well into the future. Education goals and utilizing the Post-9/11 GI Bill will remain at the core of new veterans’ transition home as they pursue careers in tech startups, Fortune 500 corporations, nonprofits, government and into positions of leadership in every sector. One of IAVA’s driving areas for advocacy and support is education. IAVA fought for the creation of, helped write and ultimately pass the Post 9/11 GI bill.
Through IAVA’s annual membership survey, we learned that 66% of our members used the Post-9/11 GI Bill last year either personally or via their dependents. And IAVA’s premier case management program, the Rapid Response Referral Program provided nearly 200 education and employment related referrals to veterans in 2017. The Post-9/11 GI Bill has sent more than one million veterans to school and although the GI Bill has helped many in our community, it has also been exploited by predators in the for-profit school sector, who take advantage of these benefits and leave veterans stuck with unnecessary debt and a sometimes mediocre education. Defending military and veteran education benefits is an important part of our Big 6 policy agenda for this year and we continue to provide advocacy and support to ensure that veterans are able to choose the best educational programs to meet their career goals and actualize their dreams.
One of the ways we do that is to collaborate with like-minded organizations who are also focused on and are effective in supporting veterans in achieving their goals. There are exceptional organizations who are providing much needed education support for veterans and one of them is Service to School (S2S), a non-profit that is instrumental in helping veterans transition by providing free application counseling, mentoring and critical support to develop and actualize education goals and gain admission to the best universities possible. This past weekend S2S hosted a Memorial Day summit that covered all things related to veterans applying to higher education programs. The event provided insights and mentorship related to the S2S TRAIN methodology: Test Preparation, Resume Review, Application & Essay assistance, Interviewing, and Networking.
IAVA attended the Summit and participated on a panel with several other veterans organizations who are doing tremendous work with veterans and education: the Pat Tillman Foundation, the COMMIT Foundation, Warrior-Scholar and Beyond the Uniform. All of these organizations work directly with veterans and provide services ranging from generous scholarships for school, support and pathways to help veterans find purpose as they transition from military careers to civilian life, to skill building that enable successful transitions from military to the classroom. The panel provided the veteran audience an opportunity to gain guidance and information and to form a network of support as they develop and pursue education and employment goals.
As we continue to defend the Post 9/11 GI Bill and advocate for political accountability and policies that are reflective of veterans’ talent and potential, IAVA is honored to work with organizations like these to ensure that our nation’s veterans are armed with the very best transition support as they enter the civilian education system and workforce.