- For Profit College Greed: With the advent of the Post 9/11 GI Bill, many colleges are touting themselves as being 'military friendly'. Veterans believe the colleges and then find out after the fact that the college doesn't even know how to help them file for their GI Bill. The college just wanted their money and could care less about the varied and serious needs of a veteran who is struggling to reintegrate.
- Inadequate Assistance in Choosing a Degree Field or Trade: Many veterans return home and don't really have any idea what to pursue in their education. Many end up choosing a college or trade school based on what they think will help them get a good paying job without knowing if their choice is a wise one.
- Corporate Indifference: So many major corporations (and small/mid-sized businesses, for that matter) have been very remiss in hiring veterans. Now, many are complaining that there aren't enough qualified job applicants for skilled manufacturing jobs and other skill/trade sets.
OK, so maybe they are not 'minor' problems. These are very serious issues that really need to be addressed if we are going to give our returning veteran the best shot at success. Here are my ideas:
- Make 'Military Friendly' A Protected Program: What do I mean by this? Lay out a set of criteria that a school must meet to be considered for the distinction. GI Bill support, additional educational subsidy on the part of the school, and accessibility of education for disabled veterans with medical support are just a few ideas. There should be an oversight organization that audits these schools on a regular basis and any school caught using the 'Military Friendly' tag without submitting to this process should be prosecuted for defrauding veterans.
- Businesses Must Communicate Their Needs to Local Schools: I think this would address the second and third bullets above. Imagine if you were a returning vet and you didn't know what you wanted to pursue for a degree or trade. When you talked to admissions about it, they inform you of the needs of the local businesses - thereby allowing you to make an informed decision about what to pursue. The businesses should be involved and offer on the job training for folks that are pursuing fields of study the business needs. It's called 'Creating a Pipeline'. With so much of our labor needs over the past 20 years having been outsourced, many companies and businesses have forgotten how to do this.
I think if we can address these major issues facing returning veterans, we can drastically improve their chances for quality employment and would be bolstering the local economies with solid workers in fields they need. The key has always been working together. Let's see what happens.