The University of Southern California's School for Social Work is running a unique campaign dedicated to raising funds for veterans looking to aid fellow servicemembers, reported the Daily Trojan. The program, called Salute4Vets, launched on Feb. 11 and provides free education to veterans who wish to pursue a master's degree in social work with a military specialization.
The campaign aims to raise $2.6 million to fund 120 scholarships. John Dumbacher, head of corporate partnerships for the School of Social Work, spearheaded the initiative. While talking to USC graduates with military experience, Dumbacher saw the impact veterans can have on others who served and was inspired to start Salute4Vets.
"Those students are helping on average about 100 veterans each year," he told the Daily Trojan. "We have 1,176 graduates of the program today, and that means over a 100,000 veterans were helped last year. So we started gathering the best of those stories and then [felt] we need to tell this [story] because it's amazing and unique."
Other colleges offer similar, veteran-centric education programs, reported The New York Times. For instance, San Diego State University's Joan and Art Barron Veteran Center offers former military personnel personalized assistance. Many of the center's employees are veterans themselves.
Veteran graduation rates are an ongoing concern. In 2013 alone, federal tax dollars funded college courses for over 1 million servicemembers and their families. According to The Washington Post, evidence shows veterans use these opportunities wisely. The Student Veterans of America in 2014 published analysis that revealed nearly 52 percent of veterans using the G.I. Bill completed their degree. However, the very fact that former servicemembers have 15 years to use these funds means that they take longer than traditional students to graduate.