February 8, 2012
APSCU Joins Broad Coalition in Support of Veteran Education
Every institution of higher education serving military- and veteran-students should honor our heroes by ensuring that American servicemembers and veterans receive the education they deserve with the benefits they earned. APSCU shares this commitment to support and protect veterans who choose to attend a private sector institution. When we were asked by our country's veteran advocates to help ensure that our veterans are savvy consumers of higher education and that our institutions of higher education live up to the standard of educating our best and brightest by signing a letter in support of these ideas, we gave the opportunity careful consideration and then signed the letter. Along with a broad coalition of other higher education and veteran service organizations, APSCU sent letters to the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committees, and the White House affirming our commitment to protect every veteran who seeks to use his or her Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits, regardless of which higher education institution they choose to attend, and assist veterans in making informed decisions about their higher education options.
Without a doubt, given the diverse coalition of individuals who ultimately signed the letter, we made a decisive choice to set aside the polarized, divisive rhetoric that has often permeated the Washington, DC discussion of our sector's education of veteran-students in favor of supporting meaningful reform. The politically-charged climate created by some in Washington has enabled the perpetuation of a few anecdotes to tarnish the education of nearly 200,000 veteran-students and consequently knee-jerk, reactionary legislative proposals, which would significantly limit postsecondary access to our servicemembers and veterans. This letter represents the crucial first step on a journey that, we believe, will ultimately lead APSCU, as a representative of the sector, to a seat at the table with the key decision-makers on veteran-education policy. Those responsible for generating the letter worked with APSCU, in good faith, to include APSCU from the beginning and to ensure that the recommendations are applied to all institutions of higher education. Ultimately, while the final language was not exactly how we would have written we, alongside of some of our harshest critics, decided that it was in our best interest to accept the invitation extended to us rather than decline and be excluded from future conversations.
By signing this letter and joining this coalition, I believe that doors will start to open and our schools will have a more receptive audience to share how our veteran-students' lives are transformed, second-chances are provided, and careers are started as a result of attending a private sector institution. It will also create greater opportunities for those in Washington to hear the voices and see the faces of veteran-education with less negative static in the background. To some, APSCU's support of the letter may seem like the first, positive act of a sector under fire. However, I know that for every supportive effort APSCU makes on behalf of our military- and veteran-students, such as sponsoring the U.S. Army Women's Foundation Annual Symposium, meeting with officials at the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, serving as a Servicemember Opportunity Colleges (SOC) Advisory Board Member, or hosting our first Veteran Hill Day, our member schools deserve all of the credit. APSCU member institutions take great care and responsibility to ensure that the transition from servicemember to student-veteran, especially those entering postsecondary education fresh from the battlefields of the Post-9/11 wars, is tailored to meets the unique need of the student, and that the transition from student-veteran to employee is successful.
Below are links to the sent letters to the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committees, and the White House. These letters can also be found on APSCU's website.