Many veterans decide to pursue educational opportunities upon separating from service, and President Barack Obama has made a concerted effort to ensure that colleges and universities across the country are making it as easy as possible for troops to earn their degrees. Among the most significant of these programs has been Obama's so-called "8 Keys To Success," a plan he unveiled recently during a speech at the Disabled American Veterans National Convention last weekend.
What's in the plan?
Many of the facets of the plan are not difficult for colleges to implement. First, and perhaps most importantly, Obama said schools should work to create a culture of trust and connectedness across the campus. The second piece of the plan is ensure student veterans have support from campus leadership. Obama's keys also include offering services such as academic, career and financial assistance before significant problems crop up. Other steps in the plan include centralizing campus wide efforts, using a uniform set of data, collaborating with local communities and preparing staff to meet the unique needs of student vets.
Hundreds of institutions following suit
More than 250 schools have been leading the way when it comes to helping veterans return to the classroom, and Obama says other institutions should follow suit. Doing so can help veterans earn degrees, certifications and other licensure that can make it easier for them to find jobs in the civilian realm. Obama's new plan has been applauded by many in both the education and military communities.
"This is a major step forward in the Administration's work to encourage institutions of higher education to support Veterans with access to the courses and resources they need to ensure that they graduate and get good jobs," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.
A growing need
Making sure schools are prepared to cater to veteran students is of the utmost importance, especially as many of them return from Afghanistan. In fact, there has already been a considerable increase in the number of servicemembers using the Post-9/11 GI Bill. In 2012, nearly 500,000 used the popular education benefits, which was up considerably from the previous year, according to data from the Department of Defense.