This week, Cleveland State University professor John Schupp, founder of Supportive Education for the Returning Veteran, or SERV, is in Washington looking for answers on how colleges and universities can take advantage of the recently-approved federal grants to establish student-veterans' centers of excellence.
Thanks to the hard work of Schupp and the AMVETS legislative team, the provision commissioning such grants was included in the Higher Education Opportunity and Affordability Act of 2008 and funding was secured in the Department of Education budget for FY2010.
Though Congress approved $6 million for a pilot program, the Department of Education has yet to clarify how these initial grants will be administered.
Since news of the grants became public in December, AMVETS and SERV have been inundated with calls, e-mails and letters from colleges and universities asking how their campuses could take advantage of the new program.
Some of the nation's top public schools, such as Indiana University, Kent State, University of California Santa Cruz, Mississippi State and Washington State, have formally inquired about how they can become involved. For this week’s meetings in Washington, Schupp has brought more than 60 of these letters with him to show key decision-makers.
AMVETS National Legislative Director Ray Kelley said he hopes that the Department of Education will start the grant process shortly to ensure that funds will be delivered in time to have true centers of excellence up and running for the fall 2010 semester.
AMVETS and SERV originally recognized the need for student-veterans' centers once the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill was signed into law, offering unprecedented educational opportunities for 21st century veterans.
American Veteran will continue to follow this story. Check back regularly for updates.