Stop Belittling Veterans for Attending Taxpaying Career Colleges

The Chronicle of Higher Education.

To the Editor:

Your article, “The Business Case for Enrolling Military Veterans” (The Chronicle, June 4), peddled the same old arguments about taxpaying schools (read for-profit colleges for those that enjoy demonizing the sector).

You blamed “aggressive recruiting” for high veteran attendance at taxpaying colleges immediately after implementation of the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Maybe you were referring to the discredited 2010 GAO report that was rewritten because of major flaws found in the initial release.

On balance, you should have at least referenced the testimony from Dr. Jennifer Steele in 2012. She said that given the negative attention by the media on taxpaying schools, “one might assume it is the colleges’ aggressive and targeted recruiting practices that are luring” veterans into these institutions. Put another way, “naïve veterans are being tricked” into enrolling at these institutions.

Dr. Steele said, “Contrary to the prevailing image of veterans as undiscerning consumers of higher education, the veterans, Reservists, active duty service members, and family members with whom we spoke described thoughtful deliberations about their choice of institutions.”

Chief among the reasons by veterans for attending private career colleges were tuition being covered by the GI Bill; the colleges had adult-oriented, career-focused programs with flexible schedules; and the ability to transfer military experience to academic credits.

Instead, you suggested that the 90/10 rule was the main driver for veteran recruitment at taxpaying career colleges.

A few months ago, Army Guard member and Green Beret, Daniel Elkins, penned an opinion piece imploring Americans “to stop perpetuating the demeaning idea that we are ‘broken’ or in need of special guidance and protection.”

Disappointingly, your article reiterates falsehoods and overgeneralizations about the for-profit sector and veterans. It then goes on to praise public and nonprofit institutions by name.

In partnership with other veterans, we helped to found Veterans for Career Education to combat this bias among some in the media and in certain political circles. We implore The Chronicle to exercise balance in future reporting.

Michael Dakduk
U.S. Marine Corps Veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq
Co-Chair of Veterans for Career Education

Tim McMahon
U.S. Air Force Veteran
President of Triangle Tech
Veterans for Career Education Ambassador