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Education & Labor Committee Republicans

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Witnesses Highlight Efforts to Support Servicemembers and Veterans in Higher Education

The Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training, chaired by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), today held a hearing to examine the steps higher education institutions are taking to better support servicemembers and veterans who are working to earn a postsecondary degree or obtain valuable job training skills. 

“Since 2009 the Post-9/11 GI Bill has helped nearly one million veterans and their families access a postsecondary education. And as more troops return from Iraq and Afghanistan, postsecondary institutions now face the largest influx of student veterans on campus since World War II,” Rep. Foxx said. “The higher education community has a responsibility to tailor programs and coursework to ensure the needs of this unique student population are met and taxpayer resources are used wisely and efficiently. Fortunately, many schools are rising to the challenge.”

During her opening remarks, Rep. Foxx highlighted the University of North Carolina’s work to build a network of veteran services and programs known as the UNC Partnership for National Security. Kimrey Rhinehardt, Vice President for Federal and Military Affairs at the University of North Carolina, explained the importance of implementing specific support systems for veteran students. “Veterans are not your typical students. They come to us from a highly structured, bureaucratic environment and are often uneasy with the loosely structured, bureaucratic environment of the University.”

To help veterans more easily transition into academic life, Ms. Rhinehardt said, “one of our top priorities is to centralize information sharing using a technology-based platform, providing a virtual ‘one-stop-shop’ for veterans…We believe that the ‘one-stop-shop’ approach works well for the University, the student veteran, and for the military.”

Other institutions are focused on improving data collection so they can develop tailored programs that meet the specific needs of military and veteran students. Dr. Russell Kitchner, American Public University System’s (APUS) Vice President for Regulatory and Governmental Relations, described APUS’ efforts to expand technology and implement “a more meaningful formula for calculating its military and veteran student graduation rate.”  This data-driven approach has allowed APUS to track veteran student performance, assess their online learning environment, and expand their most effective programs to help veteran students accomplish their education goals.

Providing veterans and servicemembers with adequate emotional and social assistance is also key to creating a successful academic environment. As Saint Leo University President Arthur Kirk noted, “We must be more than just military and veteran friendly, we must be military and veteran supportive.”  In addition to implementing veteran-specific counseling centers and organizations, Mr. Kirk said faculty and staff at Saint Leo University receive extensive training in identifying and addressing issues that veterans are likely to face in pursuing their education. Mr. Kirk concluded, “The sense of community that these efforts build on campus benefits our entire student body – veterans and non-veterans alike.”

To read witness testimony, opening statements, or watch an archived webcast of today’s hearing, visit www.edworkforce.house.gov/hearings.

 

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