Vet. Hart Tries to Get More Vets into College

In today’s Nashua Telegraph:

Only about 10 percent of veterans go back to school, Hart said. As of last month, the American Council on Education had helped nearly 200 military personnel seriously injured in Iraq or Afghanistan and their families get into institutions of higher education.

The ACE program got off the ground with help from Dartmouth President James Wright, who began visiting hospitalized veterans in 2005. Wright, an ex-Marine himself, has raised $350,000 for the program, which is running at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland, Brooke Army Hospital in Texas and Balboa Naval Hospital in California.

Although Hart, 25, wasn’t wounded in combat, health problems he contracted in the military have stayed with him. A tainted smallpox vaccine he and roughly 50 other Marines were given in Virginia induced anaphylactic shock.

[. . .]

“The current GI Bill is not as generous as the World War II GI Bill was,” Wright said. Servicemen have to enroll early in their enlistment and have to sink $100 a month into a fund, not an easy decision on a military salary, he said.

Most of those who enlist don’t plan to go to college, so they don’t sign up for GI Bill benefits, Wright said. Even those who apply get only $1,000 a month, far less than it costs to attend even most state universities.

“I think we need to find better ways to make this investment,” Wright said. The country could significantly bolster education benefits for veterans with an annual infusion of the amount of money currently spent in a week on the war in Iraq, he said.

Sens. Jim Webb, D-Va., and Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., have sponsored legislation that would furnish today’s veterans with GI Bill benefits similar to those the World War II generation enjoyed – full tuition and fees and a monthly stipend

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