Furthering their education is just one route veterans can take after leaving active duty. Moving from the military into undergraduate, vocational or advanced schooling can equip former military members with the tools they need to carve out successful new roles within the civilian sphere. With the assistance provided by legislation, vets are going back to school and realizing their potential. However, assuming current programs are perfect as is would be a mistake. There are still ways for individuals to fall through the cracks, and efforts to keep students on the path to good degrees and job opportunities are still necessary.

"The legislation blocks non-certified schools from taking G.I. Bill funds to train veteran students."

New bill meant to fight unaccredited programs
What happens when a veteran goes through a whole academic program, only to learn that the school is not accredited? This scenario could result in lost job prospects, and lawmakers are eager to make sure it doesn't occur anymore. According to Inside Higher Ed, the government spending bill recently approved in the Senate contains the Career Ready Student Veterans Act. This piece of legislation is meant as a way to block non-certified schools from taking G.I. Bill funds to train veteran students.

According to Veterans for Education Success Policy Director Walter Ochinko, some states require colleges to get their programs for specific vocations such as teaching or nursing accredited at the state level to make students eligible for state exams. When educational institutions fail to go through this process, they can claim G.I. Bill funds, teach veterans – and leave the graduating pupils unable to sit for their exams. Inside Higher Ed stated that when Ochinko studied 300 G.I. Bill-approved programs at for-profit colleges, he found 20 percent of them lacked proper accreditation.

Providing a specific example of a course of study that failed its students, the news source noted that Westwood College ran a Chicago-based criminal justice course that did not give its students the credentials needed to move into law enforcement work in Illinois. Westwood is now defunct. Furthermore, Inside Higher Ed pointed to the Federal Trade Commission's action against online college Ashworth. The FTC says Ashworth didn't accurately represent the credentials it could give out.

Other education provisions
The protection from unaccredited programs is only one of the legal provisions for veteran education currently moving forward in Congress. According to Military Times, the most recent omnibus veterans reform bill ensures war widows are able to claim some of the education benefits promised to veterans. Some spouses of military personnel killed between September 11, 2001, and January 1, 2006, were previously excluded from claiming educational credits, and they have now been added to the coverage. The education provision was among what the source described as a non-controversial assortment of items in the spending bill.

When it comes to veterans and spouses, education benefits are important and worth defending because they point the way to a more productive and positive future in a civilian setting. Legislators have taken action several times in recent years to work more educational benefits and protection into laws, and every time a veteran successfully makes the transition from the military to the workforce via a degree or vocational certification, their efforts pay off.