Veteran Services

News & trends concerning U.S. veterans in higher education

Pearl Harbor Day

US Remembers Pearl Harbor, 70 Years Later

December 07, 2011

VOA News

On Wednesday the United States marks the 70th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the "Day of Infamy" that catapulted the country into World War II.

Memorial events marking the December 7,1941 attack are being held throughout the country, the largest being on the Pacific island of Oahu, Hawaii, where the attack took place. A dwindling number of Pearl Harbor survivors and World War II veterans are among the 3,000 attendees expected at the event overlooking the USS Arizona Memorial, where the submerged remains of the fallen battleship rest. A moment of silence will be held at 7:55 in the morning (UTC 17:55), the exact moment Japan's Imperial Navy began the surprise attack.

In Washington, a wreath-laying ceremony is being held - in the afternoon local time - at the World War II Memorial on the National Mall.

In a statement marking the day, U.S. President Barack Obama paid tribute to those whose died, saying that "their tenacity helped define the greatest generation."

The attack by the Japanese on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor was unprovoked. Four U.S. battleships sank or capsized, several hundred warplanes were destroyed and more than 2,400 service men, women and civilians died. It was the most devastating foreign attack on U.S. soil until September 11, 2001.

Many Americans draw a comparison between the attack on Pearl Harbor and the attacks on September 11, 2001.  A spokesman for the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard says the comparison keeps the memory of Pearl Harbor alive for  a new generation.

"And always in the context of 9/11 you'll almost always hear a reference to - this was our generation's, this generation's Pearl Harbor," said public affairs officer Kerry Gershaneck. "So, I think the memory of Pearl Harbor is eternal as long as this nation endures."

The U.S. declared war on Japan the day after Pearl Harbor was attacked. On December 11, 1941, Japan's Axis partners Germany and Italy declared war on the U.S., marking the nation's entry into the global conflict.

Pearl Harbor Facts

Dec. 7, 1941 130 vessels of the U.S. Pacific fleet are anchored at Pearl Harbor.

7:55 a.m. First wave of Japanese aircraft arrives.

8:10 a.m. USS Arizona explodes after armor-piercing shell strikes forward ammunition magazine.

Casualties 1,177 U.S. sailors and marines on USS Arizona are killed, about 333 survive.

Aftermath The USS Arizona, USS Oklahoma, and USS Utah are lost in the attack. Remainder of the fleet is salvaged and returns to action later in the war.

Today Each year more than one million people visit the USS Arizona Memorial, constructed over the remains of the battleship.

More News

Number of Homeless Female Veterans On the Rise

by Anna Klenke

January 27, 2012

Many female veterans return from their military service with physical and psychological difficulties that make it difficult for them to cope in civilian society– and often lead to homelessness. The General Accounting Office released a report on Monday that shows that the number of homeless female veterans “more than doubled” from 2006 to 2010, according to MSNBC.com. These numbers do not include veterans living in shelters.

These women, who give so much for our country, are clearly not being served when they return from combat. Part of the problem is that many female veterans are not aware of the services available to them, including shelters. Another problem for single mothers is that many shelters open to female veterans do not accept children.

Life on the streets obviously exposes these women to additional risks of psychological and physical abuse, creating a vicious cycle that worsens the victim’s psychological state.

This is not an acceptable situation for our nation’s female war heroes.

One support group called Grace After Fire is dedicated to helping women adjust to life outside the military. CBS.com reports that female veterans “are twice as likely as civilian women to be unemployed, and almost three times as likely to commit suicide. As many as one in five have suffered sexual assault.”

The first step in improving quality of life for our female veterans is to raise awareness. I believe that there is still a slight stigma against women in the military, and many recovery efforts are focused on men. Women have their own issues, which must be addressed separately. In addition, two government agencies, the Veteran’s Administration and Housing and Urban Development, which are supposed to coordinate housing and services for veterans, need to step up their game and support the women who fight for us all.


Read more: http://www.care2.com/causes/number-of-homeless-female-veterans-on-the-rise.html#ixzz1l3Pg7Ddt

GI Bill Impact

How Pricey For-Profit Colleges Target Vets' GI Bill Money

By Adam Weinstein

MotherJones.com

September/October 2011 Issue

Last winter, the Department of Veterans Affairs tasked its newly hired blogger, a cantankerous Iraq vet named Alex Horton, with investigating the website GIBill.com, one of many official-looking links that come up when you Google terms like "GI Bill schools." With names like ArmedForcesEDU.com and UseYourGIBill.us, these sites purport to inform military veterans how to best use their education benefits. In reality, Horton found, they're run by marketing firms hired by for-profit colleges to extol the virtues of high-priced online or evening courses. He concluded that GIBill.com "serves little purpose other than to funnel student veterans and convince them their options for education are limited to their advertisers."

The 65-year-old GI Bill is widely credited with transforming post-World War II America by subsidizing vets' college education and fueling the expansion of the middle class. Yet recently, the program has also become a cash cow for for-profit schools like Capella, DeVry, ITT Tech, Kaplan, and the University of Phoenix, eager to capitalize on vets coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan.

As a beefier post-9/11 GI Bill has kicked in, a surge of service members has left the ranks armed with benefits that will cover the full cost of attending public college. In 2009, the for-profits took in almost as much military money as public colleges, even though they enrolled about one-third the number of vets. Spending on military education benefits has shot up to $10 billion; for-profit schools' share of that money has gone up 600 percent, as revealed in a recent PBS Frontline exposé. For example, at Kaplan—owned by the Washington Post Co.—military revenues grew to an estimated $48.9 million last year, up from $2.6 million in 2006.

The result has been a bonanza for schools' executives and shareholders. "We didn't foresee that the for-profit sector, eager to please Wall Street investors, would go after this new funding aggressively, often in ways that are not in the best interests of veterans and service members," stated Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) after leading an investigation into 30 major for-profits earlier this year. Or as one University of Phoenix alum put it on RipoffReport.com, the school "treats military students like cash piñatas."

Online ads are just the opening salvo in the for-profit schools' recruitment campaign. The 400,000-student University of Phoenix runs a "military division" that employs 600 vets, operates satellite campuses on military bases worldwide, and publishes an online military newsletter called the Patriot. The American Forces Network has made an exception to its no-commercials policy to air the school's ads. "We feel putting this information on the air is beneficial to the community," a program director at the network told Stars and Stripes. For-profit schools' "military enrollment advisers" are also routinely given access to soldiers on bases. An investigation by Bloomberg found that a recruiter visited Camp Lejeune's Wounded Warrior ward, hoping to enroll injured Marines.

"I felt that I have been misled, deceived, or even outright lied to," one vet testified

For-profit colleges bill themselves as flexible job-training programs, but their costs can outweigh the benefits. At 8 of the 10 for-profits that take in the most GI Bill cash, more than half of students drop out within a year of matriculation. Many students find that prospective employers and graduate schools won't take their coursework seriously since most for-profits lack accreditation from legitimate academic bodies. "I researched the accreditation and it seemed legit. I had no idea...none of my schooling would transfer," an Army vet and University of Phoenix alum from St. Petersburg, Florida, wrote on the VA's GI Bill Facebook page. "A lot of places see the guaranteed GI Bill as cash in hand and it's a shame they take advantage of us."

Some for-profits have cleaned out students' military benefits while also signing them up for thousands of dollars in loans without their knowledge. A vet who enrolled at the largely online Ashford University after being told the GI Bill would cover his tuition ended up owing the school $11,000. "I felt that I have been misled, deceived, or even outright lied to," he told Senate investigators.

At some schools, more than 60 percent of military students ultimately default on their loans. A 2010 VA audit found serious bookkeeping errors at nearly every school it reviewed: An Arizona school didn't give a veteran promised tuition discounts and pocketed $20,000; a New Jersey school collected nearly $5,000 in tuition from a student after he'd been recalled to active duty.

How did this much-loved program become corporate welfare? Congress expanded GI Bill benefits for service members and their spouses just as investors were looking for fast-growing stocks—like educational for-profits—to replace the once-hot real estate market. Tuition assistance is now paid directly to institutions, not soldiers, making it easier for schools to convince vets to sign over their benefits. GI Bill dollars have also enabled for-profits to boost how much federal financial aid they receive. In order to collect federal Title IV aid—Pell grants, Stafford loans, and Plus loans—the schools must obey the "90/10 rule": They can't derive more than 90 percent of their total income from Title IV programs. GI Bill funds don't count toward that total. So every dollar of military aid enables for-profit schools to collect nine dollars from the Department of Education.

The VA oversees the disbursement of GI Bill money, but its bureaucracy has been swamped by the glut of soldiers-turned-students. It relies heavily on reporting from state agencies, which in turn frequently rely on information cherry-picked by the schools themselves—an approach, the Government Accountability Office notes, that "undermines the independence of the review." Harkin and a cohort of Democratic senators have proposed stricter guidelines for the for-profits, which spent more than $7 million on lobbying last year. The plan has found few additional supporters in Congress.

In the meantime, Horton and his colleagues on the VA's outreach team continue their war on misinformation. "We're not in the business of telling veterans where they can and can't go to school," says his boss and fellow Iraq vet Brandon Friedman. "But we can give vets enough knowledge to make a decision."

Horton encourages service members to do their homework so they get the best value for their benefits. "Take a look at the CEOs and directors of those for-profit schools, Kaplan, DeVry, Ashford. Where'd they go to school? Harvard, Stanford, Oxford," he says. "Zero are for-profit graduates."

Adam Weinstein is Mother Jones' national security reporter. For more of his stories, click here or follow him on Twitter. Get Adam Weinstein's RSS feed.

 

In the News

The newest Time Magazine cover proclaims them the New Greatest Generation – 5 young people holding part of their prior lives: their uniforms.  As Paul Reickhoff , the founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), said in an article in Forbes.com –  TIME magazine published an iconic picture of three young troops in 2003, when they proclaimed the TIME Magazine Person of the Year “the American Soldier.”  I remember that cover very well, since our son was downrange with 1st Armored Division– the unit tab on the uniforms on TIME echoed my son’s own sleeve.

This was when “thank the troops” was a new phrase, when yellow ribbons encircled trees in parks from Maine to Montana, Connecticut to Kansas, Minnesota to Texas.  Those ribbons are pale remnants now, and our country is becoming weary or complacent about the 1% of our population who are at war.

The 5 young people on the new TIME Magazine cover won’t let you be complacent.   These are the future movers and shakers,  these are the men and women who won’t let you ignore the veterans amongst us.  They aren’t asking for a hand out, they are the ones advocating for their fellow veterans, building homes for them, organizing, educating.

Paul Reickhoff, Liz Young McNally, Wes Moore, John Gallina and Dale Beatty represent the veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan who are not going to sit back and wait for a “grateful nation” to give them anything.  They are going out, shaking the trees, making a difference and getting the education that will help them make the changes that are needed.  As Reickhoff says “….we are not a charity, we’re an investment.”   John Gallina and Dale Beatty were both wounded in the same IED blast; built an “adapted”  house for Beatty and realized that Gallina’s “invisible” wounds were healing by doing as well -  and began Purple Heart Homes which builds handicapped access homes for veterans of ALL wars.

A friend of mine mused that since only 1% of the population is actually connected in some way to the military , we should call this the Greatest of a Generation.  Support the wars or not, these men and women have come out of the military with drive, determination and a willingness to buckle down, work and make a difference.  They are going to be in Congress, in State Houses, running corporations and non profits.    Keep an eye on these young men and women – you’ll be seeing a lot of them.

Their families too, are part of this generation – the spouses who held families together during deployment, attended the memorial services, and forged bonds with their fellow spouses that survive for years; the children who survived long absences by their parent, and who grew stronger in spite of it.  There are families in crisis – that’s a given; and not all families have survived well.

But today – today we’ll celebrate the men and women who are bringing their drive, their passion, their commitment to service and their experience and telling us all: we are here, we are the future.

Breaking News

Veterans Deserve a Chance to Be Rhodes Scholars

Autumn is the season when colleges and universities encourage their most talented seniors to compete for prestigious postgraduate scholarships and fellowships. No award is more celebrated than the Rhodes Scholarship, which has been sending Americans to the University of Oxford for more than a century. The ranks of past recipients have included hundreds of leaders in public service and academe, including governors, ambassadors, Supreme Court justices, members of Congress, and a U.S. president.

Yet as the October 5 deadline for Rhodes Scholarships approached, some of the nation's best and brightest undergraduates knew not to bother with the application—they were ineligible for this golden ticket. Their fatal flaw? They chose to serve our country as members of the armed forces.

Each year more than 200,000 veterans—most of them well over the average age of college freshmen—enter college under the Post-9/11 GI Bill and similar programs. One of the top students at Washington College, where I serve as president, made me aware of the discrimination in the Rhodes Scholarship criteria, which require that applicants from the United States be under the age of 24.

Each of the 14 nominating countries or geographic entities sets its own restrictions, subject to approval by the Rhodes Trust, and the cutoff ages range from 24 to 27 around the globe. It appears that Jim would have been eligible had he been a citizen of Zambia.

As with many members of his generation, Jim's patriotism was forged by the events of September 11, 2001. He joined the Marine Corps Reserve shortly after high school, and served as a gunner on a patrol boat hunting insurgents along the banks of the Euphrates River in Iraq. After completing his tour of duty, he enrolled at Washington College, taking advantage of a special scholarship the college offers for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

After his sophomore year, Jim's unit was called back into service, and he was deployed to Afghanistan, where he saw combat in Helmand Province and received a medal for superior performance during combat operations. His firsthand experience of rural Afghans' poverty and lack of educational opportunities redoubled his commitment to eventually using his own education to help those in need, whether overseas or closer to home.

Last year he returned to college to continue his studies. Today he is a senior with a perfect grade-point average of 4.0. He is double majoring in humanities and philosophy, and has taught himself Latin and ancient Greek. He has further demonstrated his commitment to public service by creating a remarkable program, called "Partners in Philosophy," for prisoners at a Maryland state penitentiary. Students and faculty share with inmates (many of them serving life sentences) the works of great thinkers such as Plato, Aquinas, and Kierkegaard, and lead critical conversations on ethics, morals, and social justice.

Jim is poised to become a leader in his generation of young Americans and plans to apply for some of the leading postgraduate scholarships and fellowships. But he cannot even consider seeking a Rhodes Scholarship because he is 26 years old, two years older than the cutoff age. In other words, Jim's selflessness and service to his country have disqualified him under the guidelines imposed by the Rhodes Trust, which has in the past declined to allow changes in the age requirement for American applicants. Undoubtedly, there are many other outstanding young veterans like Jim attending colleges and universities across the country.

This penalty is particularly surprising given the characteristics that Cecil Rhodes specified in his will for his trust's beneficiaries. In addition to academic accomplishment, Rhodes scholars must demonstrate "truth, courage, devotion to duty, sympathy for and protection of the weak, kindliness, unselfishness and fellowship," and "moral force of character and instincts to lead, and to take an interest in one's fellow beings." Yet many who epitomize those virtues are barred from applying.

Over the years, the Rhodes Trust has eliminated virtually every other form of discrimination from its operations and selection processes. In the 1970s, the trust even sought a special act of Parliament to overturn a clause restricting the scholarships to men only. Today the trust does not discriminate with regard to gender, marital status, sexual orientation, race, ethnic origin, color, religion, social background, caste, or disability.

There remains one more step the Rhodes Trust should take: removing discrimination on the basis of age.

An entire generation of young men and women are returning from military service in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere to take their rightful places in the academy. It is an injustice to them as individuals, to the larger community of Rhodes scholars, and to the intentions of Cecil Rhodes to deny them the opportunity to apply for a place among the world's most accomplished scholars at Oxford.

Mitchell B. Reiss is president of Washington College, in Chestertown, Md.