Editor's Note (The View From Here)

November 11

Today, November 11, is Veterans Day. To my dad and his brothers who served in WWII, to my cousins who served in Korea and Vietnam, to my nephews who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and to all of the others who have shown extraordinary courage, sacrifice and commitment to preserving our freedom — thank you!

Returning home and readjusting to civilian life has not been easy for many of our veterans. I’ve watched it firsthand. For many veterans, enrolling in college has not been without challenge — difficulties ranging from balancing work and family responsibilities, to financing their education, to making connections with younger students who appear less disciplined and unable to relate to their experiences. Most college students are 17 or 18 years old when they enter their freshman year. Their life experience is very different than those in the military who have served their country. In 2007-2008, nearly 50 percent of all military undergrads were married, while another 47 percent were raising children with or without a spouse. It is no wonder that making a connection with fellow students is difficult. It is also no surprise that many colleges are unprepared to deal with the unique needs of our vets — but we need get to prepared — now!

With wars in Iraq and Afghanistan winding down and enhancements to the GI Bill, colleges and universities are expecting a surge in veteran enrollment unseen since World War II. In the peak year of 1947, veterans accounted for 49 percent of college admissions, thanks to the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944 — commonly known as the GI Bill of Rights. By the time the original GI Bill ended in 1956, 7.8 million of 16 million WWII veterans had participated in an education or training program. In 1984, the revamped GI Bill became known as the “Montgomery GI Bill.” In 2008, the GI Bill was updated once again, providing enhanced benefits that cover more educational expenses and provide a living allowance and money for books and supplies. Many returning vets are taking advantage of this bill to finance their college educations.

Our veterans have sacrificed to ensure our freedom and give us hope for a bright future. Aiding in their transition from military to college will help them attain the future they deserve. What better way to say thanks!

This article originally appeared in the College Planning & Management November 2013 issue of Spaces4Learning.

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