Tempe, AZ – Over 500 military veterans from dozens of career education colleges and universities have joined Veterans for Career Education (VCE) to protect their right to use their earned GI Bill benefit at the school of their choice. In three weeks, the “Let VETS Choose Tour” has hosted rallies at eight campuses in seven cities bringing together veterans who are students, graduates, or educators at career colleges.
In Congress, seven bills and one draft piece of legislation are under consideration to restrict choice for veterans using the GI Bill and servicemembers using military education benefits. Lawmakers are advancing these bills under the banner of protecting veterans and servicemembers.
Veterans for Career Education (VCE) Ambassador and U.S. Marine Corps veteran Andreau Miller wrote a letter to the editor that was published in The Sentinel .
In the Letter, Andreau speaks about how her earned educational benefits allowed her to pursue her goals at Triangle Tech. In the letter, Andreau wrote : "Welding and fabrication had always been a passion of mine, and thanks to the GI Bill I was able to pursue my dream and enroll in a 16-month program at Triangle Tech in Sunbury"
Andreau also challenged her representative Sen. Bob Casey, to stand with veterans and protect access to the education of our choice: "Proposals circulating in Congress to classify the earned GI benefit just like federal financial aid for students are wrong; benefits earned by members of the military are not the same."
Veterans for Career Education (VCE) has launched a nationwide mobilization effort for veterans to protect their right to use their earned education benefit at the college or university of their choice. The tour comes at a time when members of Congress and presidential hopefuls have threatened to cut off higher education choice for America’s veterans.
“The Let VETS Choose tour is about bringing together veterans, and their families, and supporting their right to use the GI Bill at the school of their choice,” said Steve Gonzalez, United States Marine Corps veteran and executive director of VCE.
Michael Dakduk, Marine Corps veteran and co-chair of VCE, announced that Steve Gonzalez and Carl Walker will join the staff of VCE. Steve Gonzalez formerly worked for the U.S. House Budget Committee as a professional staff member. Prior to that, he worked on education issues for the American Legion. Steve is a Marine Corps veteran with multiple combat and overseas deployments. Steve will service as executive director of VCE.
Carl Walker graduated with both is undergraduate and graduate degrees from Full Sail University, a career-oriented university located in Orlando, FL. He also served eight years in the U.S. Air Force as a Tactical Aircraft Maintainer where had multiple deployments overseas including Afghanistan and Africa. “I would not be where I am today if it weren’t for my earned education benefits, like the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and the freedom to choose the school that I’ve always wanted to attend,”said Carl Walker. Carl will serve as director of VCE.
In an opinion piece written for Military Times, Navy Veteran and VCE Ambassador Larry Goerzen wrote in response to Rep. Donna Shalala (D-FL) labeling the credentials earned by veterans at career schools as “worthless” and the institutions as “predatory.”
“Veterans are organizing to dispel any suggestions that they were tricked or duped into choosing a certain school and are outraged that political activists continue to suggest that their schools and credentials are worthless.”
Tim McMahon, U.S. Air Force veteran and co-founder of Veterans for Career Education (VCE) testified today before the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity. In written testimony, Tim said: I am excited to be among the nearly 100 veterans that flew from across the country to Washington D.C., just before Memorial Day, and helped to found Veterans for Career Education (VCE). We founded VCE to support the right of veterans to use their earned education benefits, like the GI Bill, to gain career skills at the college or institution of their choice. We fundamentally believe that education policy should not dictate where veterans use their earned education benefits.
Tim's full written testimony may be found here.
Details on the hearing may be found here.
Veterans Affairs' Official Says Anti-Choice Legislation May Immediately Impact 60,000 Student Veterans
In testimony before a Congressional panel charged with overseeing the GI Bill, a Department of Veterans Affairs' official said that "Based on preliminary research, we identified 133 schools that would be potentially affected by closing the 90/10 loophole, which in turn would immediately impact approximately 60,000 students."
In an opinion piece written for Trib Live (local paper in Pennsylvania), Air Force veteran, president of Triangle Tech and CECU board member Tim McMahon wrote about the impact educational benefits his career. In the oped Tim writes:
“I am a beneficiary of the original GI benefit, as it was my only option for pursuing higher education. I was one of seven kids; my father was a city police officer, and the only way I could afford to pursue an education was to join the Air Force. Luckily for me and so many others, the Air Force did everything it promised to do for me. While I had no clue at the time what my plans would be following my time in the Air Force, I now know that if I had come out of the military and had limitations on where I could take my benefit, it would have changed the direction of my career.”
In an opinion piece written for Tennessean (local paper in Tennessee), Navy Veteran and VCE Ambassador James Lillback wrote about how his service and educational journey lead him to a career school. In the oped, James voices his displeasure with lawmakers push to limit his and other veterans school choice at career schools, like Fortis Institute in Cookeville, Tennessee. James writes:
“I am disappointed to learn that some politicians want to limit the ability of veterans to use their earned GI Bill at career schools like the one I attended. Politicians must understand that not every veteran wants to attend a public university. In fact, many of us—including myself—found the traditional college experience to be a bad fit.”