U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and U.S. Reps. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) and Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) announced on Tuesday that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs had reversed its previous decision not to fund innovative learning support classes for Tennessee veterans pursuing further education under the G.I. Bill.
The classes – which prepare veterans for college and other higher educational programs using new technologies and approaches to increase graduation rates and reduce costs – are available at 13 community colleges throughout Tennessee, including Dyersburg State Commmunity College, and will now receive federal support as other classes do under the G.I. bill. The VA had previously stated it would not provide funding that veterans normally receive under the G.I. Bill for such classes.
Alexander said: “This is a major victory for veterans in Tennessee who are trying to improve their education – as well as an example of Washington getting out of the way of local decision making and innovation. We owe the men and women of our Armed Services a debt we couldn’t possibly repay, and helping them build new skills and climb the economic ladder is a move in the right direction. I thank Senator Corker and Congressmen Black and Roe for joining in this crucial effort to get Veterans Affairs to reverse its decision.”
Corker said: “Our service members, military retirees and veterans should receive every benefit that America has promised them. I am pleased to have joined my colleagues in urging Veterans Affairs to resolve this issue, and I will continue working to ensure Tennessee veterans have access to the educational resources they have earned.”
Black said: “I commend the VA for reversing this decision and agreeing to this essential funding to help our Tennessee veterans. We must do all we can to help our nation’s finest receive quality educations and good jobs upon returning from service, and this decision is a necessary step in the right direction. I thank Senators Alexander and Corker and Congressman Roe for their help protecting the best interests of our servicemen, and of our local community colleges as well.”
Roe said: “Our nation’s heroes deserve the chance to continue their education, and I am proud the VA has recognized that many veterans want to take advantage of these important classes. Each veteran has his or her own unique education needs, and a one-size-fits-all approach dictated by bureaucrats rarely works for any program. I thank Senator Alexander, Senator Corker and Rep. Black for their work to keep Washington from interfering with the education needs of our veterans.”
The learning support classes being utilized by Tennessee’s community colleges are redesigned remedial courses that have been specifically developed to help veterans and other students build the skills they need to be successful in their credit-bearing courses faster than with traditional models.
The Department of Veterans Affairs had previously classified the classes as “independent study,” which would not qualify for funding under the G.I. Bill. Alexander, Corker, Black and Roe aided local community colleges in making the case that the classes – which include classrooms and instructors – are innovative programs that should still qualify for the same support that traditional veterans’ education courses do.
The classes are taught at Chattanooga State Community College, Cleveland State Community College, Columbia State Community College, Dyersburg State Community College, Jackson State Community College, Motlow State Community College, Nashville State Community College, Northeast State Community College, Pellissippi State Community College, Roane State Community College, Southwest Tennessee Community College, Volunteer State Community College and Walters State Community College.