Education Benefits Sit-Rep

1. As our veterans return home over the next few years, we as a nation have an obligation, and more rightly an opportunity, to prepare the next greatest generation for success. The Obama Administration put out a call to action—bringing together a diverse group of government partners—to help with the transitioning phase of service men and women. Born from this, was the Veterans Employment Initiative Task Force, launched with leadership from the DoD and VA. “Federal agency partners working with Military and Veterans Service Organizations have committed to maximizing resources, aligning benefits for Service members, and reducing duplication and system inefficiencies to best facilitate Service members’ transition to civilian life.” They are collaborating on the first redesign of the military’s Transition Assistance Program, now called Transition Goals, Plans, Success (Transition GPS).

2. The White House recently announced a partnership surrounding IT training and certification that boasts an ability to put 100,000 veterans back to work in the coming years. The program will allow transitioning servicemembers the ability to take free training courses in order to prepare for civilian sector certifications in the industry. Men and women who worked in IT fields while in service are finding it difficult to find jobs in their specialty when they return home due to "red tape, outdated rules, or simple lack of coordination.” Similar discussions surrounding emergency medical services, healthcare, and transportation are slated to continue for strides in helping veterans translate their skills and training into academic credits.

3. Check out the newest U.S. News College Rankings. For the first time ever, they are now including analysis of veteran-specific criteria. Online programs were originally ranked by U.S. News, but in light of the unique challenges that veterans face, they have tailored their consideration appropriately. Many veterans and servicemembers find it difficult to finish their education when moving from base to base, and some transition home with various physical and emotional wounds that make it difficult to attend a brick-and-mortar school. This leaves online programs as a better alternative in many cases. The rankings therefore, also take into consideration some of the recent for-profit pitfalls and barriers that some programs put up with regards to transparency. Look at a few categories of the top ten ranked veterans programs here.

To learn more about veterans education benefits in general, check out our FAQs or GI Bill Calculator. You can also reach out to me personally; I am the education specialist standing by to help with all of your questions and concerns. Click here to get a quick response instead of waiting for hours listening to the VA’s mainline hold music.

Ryan Weemer is a USMC Iraq war veteran and the Education Case Manager for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA).