Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA), along with dozens of other veterans and military service organizations, worked diligently to pass the Post-9/11 GI Bill. We believe those who serve in uniform, who give of themselves at great personal cost, deserve more than lip service about "the brave young men and women" in our Armed Forces who place themselves in harm's way and undergo severe hardships on behalf of our nation. Despite the inevitable start-up bumps, this educational benefit administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs, as well as the Tuition Assistance Program run by the Department of Defense, has enabled tens of thousands of veterans and active-duty troops – and their eligible spouses or children – to obtain the higher education, or vocational training, they need to pursue their American Dream.
Just as the Post-9/11 GI Bill has been a boon to those who have served in the military, it has also been a gold mine to predatory "for-profit" institutions of "higher learning" that have taken advantage of the law (the 90/10 rule) and have done, and continue to do, a reprehensible disservice to honorable young (and not-so-young) men and women who have served in the war against terrorism. While there are many legitimate for-profit schools that provide value, predatory for-profit institutions have sprung up like mushrooms in a field of clover. They are not accredited by any recognized collegiate accrediting agency. They offer cut-rate degrees at gold-plated prices that can be obtained online, degrees that are essentially worthless, and are dismissed by most employers seeking qualified, educated workers. They undermine accredited colleges and universities, and their bank accounts bulge with federal dollars paid out via unsuspecting veterans, who are, all too often, left with little but personal debt.
This is a scandal of major proportions, a swindle that has gone on for far too long. It demands a swift and sure response from the federal government. VVA calls on the federal government, through an act of Congress or executive action, to seek to recoup the hundreds of millions of dollars that have, in effect, been stolen from the taxpayer, the active-duty warrior, and the veteran by these for-profit institutions whose concept of truth in advertising is akin to the promotion of magic "elixirs" by snake-oil salesmen of old.
VVA calls for a case-by-case review, with the goal of restoring the educational benefits for any warrior or veteran who feels s/he has been ripped off by promises from these institutions that are made but not kept. VVA also calls on Congress to enact legislation that will strengthen the authority of the State Approving Agencies by empowering them to approve the courses or training programs taken by troops and veterans before any dispersal of funds by DoD or the VA is made.
And last, but not least, VVA calls on the Department of Justice to initiate an investigation into those individuals and their corporate shells that have undermined the true intent of the Post-9/11 GI Bill. VVA applauds Senator Thomas Carper and Senator Tom Harkin for their efforts to shed light on this scandal. It is now time for Congress and the administration to do something about it.