Former Marine Brendan Hart is on a mission to get more veterans in college, especially those who have been injured. He recently pointed out WWII veterans flooded into college but, “now these guys transferring out have to fight tooth and nail to get into schools they may not want to go to.” Recent figures indicate only about 10% of veterans from the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan have gone on to higher education after completing their service tour. Dartmouth President James Wright, a former Marine, points out that current veteran benefits are not as generous as those given WWII and Korean War veterans. Senator Jim Webb and Senator Chuck Hagel, two veterans of the Vietnam War, are attempting to alter veteran benefits to make them closer to the WWII model.
As a Korean War veteran, I am shocked by the inadequate funding of veterans seeking to attend higher education or secure other forms of training for skilled jobs. We were provided payment of full tuition, a monthly stipend, and, in many cases the cost of books. In 1968, I initiated the Veterans Accelerated Urban Learning for Teaching program(VAULT) at Webster College in St. Louis, Missouri designed for returning Vietnam soldiers who were interested in teaching careers. We placed these men (the initial group was male) as interns in St. Louis public schools which was desperate for male role models in the younger grades. I insisted one-third of our group was of African American background. The college established an accelerated program for the veterans so they could graduate in three years. A similar situation is present today, few urban children encounter male role models in elementary or middle school. Why not bring back the WWII model and provide stipends for veterans who would intern in urban schools while pursuing their teaching certification?