Sen. Jon Tester of Montana has introduced the Veterans Education Empowerment Act, a bill that would reauthorize a Department of Education grant program to help institutions of higher education establish, maintain and improve veteran student centers – dedicated spaces on a college or university campus that provide student veterans or eligible family members with a meeting space and centralized office for services.
The bill is supported by the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP).
“We thank Sen. Tester for his leadership in recognizing the challenges that injured veterans face as they attempt to adjust from active duty military life to life on a college campus,” Jeremy Chwat, chief program officer at WWP, stated in a press release. “We believe these grants will provide the resources needed on campus to help make the transition to college more successful for this generation of wounded warriors.”
Since 2010, WWP has been using the information gathered from its Annual Alumni Survey to refine its existing programs; develop new initiatives; identify gaps in existing services and support; and create and advocate for legislation that positively impacts warriors and their families. As the results of the Annual Alumni Survey attest, injured veterans continue to report difficulty with assimilating on campus and adapting to student life; insufficient or nonexistent accommodations for their disabilities; and lack of understanding on the part of faculty and fellow students of needs arising from post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.
One-third of the more than 21,000 warriors surveyed in 2014 identified themselves as “in school.” The goal of WWP’s Education Services program is to help each warrior establish a clear plan, with an end goal in mind, which will allow them to succeed in their pursuit of an education. The grant program would help provide resources for veteran centers that can provide student veterans with academic support, networking opportunities, peer mentorship, financial assistance, mental health counseling and career services.