Veterans have the right to use their earned GI Bill benefits at the school of their choice. Florida Daily’s article “Veterans Groups, Education Leaders Back Donna Shalala’s Effort to Close GI Benefits Loophole” argues that veterans and education leaders support Rep. Shalala’s bill that would limit veterans’ access to taxpaying schools (read for-profit colleges for those that continue to demonize the sector). But this is not accurate and readers deserve to know the other side of the story. Not all veterans are getting behind a bill that would limit our right to choose which higher education program we can attend.
As members of the military, we were called upon to perform our work under extraordinary circumstances and in remote locations far from our homes. If we can do that for our country, it means we are more than capable of choosing what school works best for us.
Veterans for Career Education (VCE) is taking a stance on the issue and fighting for veterans’ rights. Founded by veterans, for veterans attending career schools, the campaign aims to protect veterans’ rights to use their earned education benefits, like the Post-9/11 GI Bill, to gain career skills at the school of their choice. VCE is currently touring the country over the coming weeks and visiting 27 campuses in 10 states to support veterans’ right to choose their school, their programs and ultimately, their careers.
Proposals in Congress looking to limit veterans’ access to career schools would only harm access to higher education for the military community. Research shows that more than 260 schools serving over 150,000 student veterans may be adversely impacted by these proposals.
Veterans’ freedom to choose where they pursue an education is extremely important because our nation’s veterans are capable people. Many veterans cannot understand why lawmakers believe we can’t decide which education is best for us. Some of us choose focused career programs aligned with in-demand skilled professions–like welding, nursing, cybersecurity and aviation technology–to better ourselves and the American workforce.
Rep. Shalala needs to understand the negative impact her proposal would have on veterans’ education. She must stand with veterans who want to hold on to their right to pursue the education they decide is best for them. Student veterans, service members and their families using earned education benefits have the right to choose the school and program of study that best fits their career aspirations.
Michael Dakduk, is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq and is the co-chair of Veterans for Career Education. Joshua Browder, a U.S. Navy veteran and Florida resident, is an ambassador of Veterans for Career Education.