Monday, March 16, 2009
Magazine Update: Veterans For Education
In the fall issue of American Veteran magazine, we explored the challenges facing veterans returning to college. In the story, we profiled the student-veterans' group, Veterans For Education (V4E), at Rutgers University in New Jersey.
Since last meeting with the students at Rutgers, V4E has continued to work tirelessly to improve the perception of veterans on their own campuses and at schools across New Jersey.
William Brown, a former Navy SEAL who helped to establish the group alongside Army veteran John Cosby, continues to work with newly-appointed New Jersey Congressman John Adler on the Congressman's veterans' advisory board. Leading up to the election, Brown and his V4E colleagues hosted a congressional debate between Adler and challenger Chris Meyers. V4E's work keeping tabs on both Adler and Meyers leading up to Nov. 4, inspired Adler to seek counsel from V4E on veterans' issues once in office.
Brown has also developed an ambitious idea to run across Iraq from Kirkuk to Basra as a sign of good will and to raise funds for Iraqi charities. Brown's idea has been highlighted by a variety of major media outlets, including the New York Daily News and the Boston Globe. AMVETS has offered support to Brown in his efforts to make this run a reality within the coming year.
The current president of V4E, Bryan Adams, a former Army sniper who was wounded in Iraq, has gained significant notoriety in his own right over the last six months through his work with Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA). In the fall, IAVA enlisted Adams' help as its new national spokesman. Adams is featured along with IAVA's director of government affairs, Todd Bowers, in the new Ad Council public service announcement, "Alone." The PSA, which can be viewed below, recently won the 2009 New York ADDY award. Adams is currently also in the running for student body president at Rutgers Camden.
Through the leadership of Brown, Adams, and Cosby; and with the support of the Student Veterans of American (SVA), the veterans at Rutgers have become vocal authorities on student-veterans' issues across New Jersey. V4E has been working for months with the New Jersey Legislature to pass legislation authorizing state colleges and universities to accept college credits from military transcripts, as part of the Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges program. The group is also pushing through legislation that would authorize the state's office of veterans' affairs to assign veterans' assistance officers to college campuses across New Jersey; a story that has been featured in the Philadelphia Inquirer and syndicated on Military.com.
Unfortunately, V4E continues to face challenges within their own student body. Recently, an Army Major visited Rutgers Camden School of Law to inform students about opportunities with the Army JAG Corps. The officer was greeted with offensive signs put in place by a Rutgers student disparaging the honorable service of our men and women in uniform as a method of protesting the controversial "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. Not only were the signs misdirected toward service members, but they also contained racially-charged remarks, out of the context from the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" debate. One military student enrolled in the law school, Vivek Sahani, took offense to the signs and sought to take action with campus officials.
Thanks to Sahani's efforts, the campus is reviewing the actions of the student responsible for placing the signs. Similar protests have taken place on college campuses nationwide, leaving many veterans feeling unwelcome in academia; victims of a debate on controversial policies over which they have no control. Check back with American Veteran to follow this story's developments. In the meantime, let us know your thoughts on the issue, or if you have had similar experiences on college campuses near you.
(Photo: Veterans For Education members last fall at Rutgers Camden, photo by Ryan Gallucci. Video: IAVA's "Alone" public service announcement featuring Bryan Adams, used with permission from IAVA.)