By Carl Singer

The Great

First a quick history lesson – the original G.I. Bill was enacted in 1944.  JWV proudly can claim to have a strong supporter and advocate for the G.I. Bill.  We along with other veterans groups made it happen!

Some say that World War II brought America out of the Depression, but I say that the G.I. Bill enabled and sparked the remarkable growth of the post-World War II American economy.  Young soldiers that came home from the war got their education thanks to the G.I. Bill, and they applied their learning, can-do spirit and military discipline to building a better America.  VA loans also enabled these GI’s to buy homes and reach for the American Dream.

“The World War II G.I. Bill, it’s one of the most cherished programs in American History, it paid the full cost of an education at any four-year college or university,” said Aaron Glantz of PBS.

For the G.I. – the G.I. Bill provided opportunity and an open door to a brighter future.

For colleges and universities – the G.I. Bill filled classrooms with enthusiastic students and revenue to build, to expand and do research.

For America – the G.I. Bill was the catalyst for fantastic growth, international leadership, the space age – you name it.  All thanks to the G.I. Bill.

The Bad

Over the years G.I. Bill benefits withered – with a less understanding Congress and less pressure from voters, benefits were reduced.  In 2008, this was finally addressed in support of the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill.

However, there are still many issues to be addressed.  For-profit schools have gotten into the act – preying on veterans because they see the opportunity of providing services where the recipient doesn’t pay.

Kate O’Gorman of IAVA said, “many veterans are being aggressively and deceptively recruited by some bad actors in the for-profit school sector.”

For the G.I. – Less benefits with an uncertain future.

For colleges and universities – Huge payouts with very little accountability on how the money is being used.

For America – Veterans that are demoralized and might need constant government assistance.

The Ugly

Lastly, some schools, like ITT Tech, have abruptly closed leaving veterans high and dry – having used their benefits, but leaving them without their diploma.  These service members are not getting their money’s worth – many do not get their degrees and many do not learn the skills they need to succeed in the market place.  It’s not only the dollars wasted, but about the lives being impacted!

For the G.I. – No benefits with a poor outlook of the future.

For colleges and universities – Receiving veterans’ money without having to do anything for the veteran.

For America – Veterans that might be unable to provide for themselves.

The Answer

There are several bills before Congress that address some of these problems that JWV is currently promoting with the Military Coalition.  They might not be voted on or passed this year, but we will continue to fight for these inclusions.

As National Commander, I introduced a resolution at our National Convention this past August in San Antonio, which included 5 major tenets:

  1. Provide effective initial counseling to transitioning service members so that they may select appropriate education and training venues, leading towards productive careers.
  2. Provide additional as needed counseling at the request of service members who are receiving GI Bill stipends.
  3. Monitor for profit training and education venues to assure that they are providing appropriate services to GI Bill recipients.
  4. Decertify those training and education venues which fail to meet established criteria.
  5. In the event that a training or education facility closes prior to a service member’s completing their contracted program, provide appropriate added GI Bill benefits so that the service member is made whole.

Volume 71. Number 3. Fall 2017

By Bart Sherwood

In response to the proposed House Resolution 2327 – “Puppies Assisting Wounded Service Members (PAWS) Act of 2017”, the Department of Veterans Affairs will be authorized to spend $10 million to again study the benefits of approximately 400 Service Dogs (Valued at $25,000. each) given to Veterans surviving with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The grants will be awarded to non-profit Service Dog Training organizations, recognized as members of Assistance Dogs International (ADI), a foreign entity operating in the United States. This organization, and its American affiliates, have been recipients of similar grants since 2012, when studies on the therapeutic effectiveness of Service Dogs for PTSD started, including the recently awarded 2017 Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences’ Wounded Warrior Service Dog Program of $5-million for 20 grants for 200 Service Dogs in 2017.

According to the statistics drawn from this proposal, there will be 36,500 Veteran suicides over the 5-year period, in which the study will produce 400 Service Dogs for less than 1.1% of the affected population. This does not appear to be a good Rate of Return on investment. However, it is fair and true to say, whatever money spent to save the lives of Veterans surviving with PTSD, in attempting to prevent and reduce suicides is worth the expenditure of time and money. BUT it is also time to study the effectiveness of such organizations and establish criteria for which such grants should be awarded.

Research and studies need to reflect PATIENT REPORTED OUTCOMES (PRO), which address how the effectiveness of such therapy has made a difference. The users of the benefits need to be recognized and annotated, as this presents a clearer view of the results to the beneficiary of the Service Dog.

Other criteria for awarding grants, should be based on the organization, and not the affiliation of the member, which is a discriminatory practice and needs to be based on ‘bid-type’ policy, like other Governmental contracts.

Each organization awarded a portion of the grant should be required to document past performances, and meet or exceed the following criteria:

(1) Minimum of 50 Service Dogs, or Teams trained, annually for the last 2 years,

(2) Minimum 15% of Service Dog recipients, or Teams, have been minority Hispanic and African-American) Veterans, and

(3) Minimum 25% of Service Dog recipients, or Teams, are Female Veterans.

In order to make a significant difference, WE must in fact “CHANGE THE CULTURE” from within, whether it be the recommendation of Service Dogs or scheduling appointments.

Volume 71. Number 3. Fall 2017

On March 22, 2017, National Commander Colonel Carl Singer testified before a joint session of the Senate and House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. NC Singer presented the legislative priorities of JWV, thereby officially informing Congress of our position on a number of crucial veterans issues.  The co-chairs of the committee were Senator John Boozman (R-AZ) and Congressman Phil Roe, M.D., (R-TN), each of whom have many years of service with the Veterans’ Affairs committees.

NC Singer’s introduction spoke of JWV’s 120 year history, of our strong VAVS program, hosting educational programs, and supporting patriotic organizations like Boy Scouts of America. He emphasized that the VA must be kept intact, expanding to private care only when VA care is unavailable. He stressed that extending the Choice Act deadline cannot mean privatization. NC Singer said, “JWV believes that the best healthcare is at the VA.”

JWV is a strong advocate of equal treatment for female veterans, and NC Singer further emphasized the need for VA improvements in the treatment process for Military Sexual Trauma (MST).

Another issue of great importance to JWV is the plight of our homeless veterans. NC Singer acknowledged that while the VA has made great strides in reducing the number of homeless veterans, even one homeless veteran is one too many.

JWV supports passage of the Military and Veteran Caregiver Services Improvement Act of 2017 (HR 1472/S594) to expand care-giver eligibility to include full-time pre 9/11 veteran caregivers. These caregivers save the VA in healthcare costs and they give the veteran desired personalized treatment.

NC Singer stated that JWV strongly supports continued research and treatment for service-related toxin exposure. When veterans have been exposed to toxins while on active duty, they and their families must receive proper care and treatment, no matter when the toxin effects appear. Toxin related illnesses may appear at any time, even decades later. Delayed harmful effects of toxins may be seen from Agent Orange (JWV supports the Agent Orange Extension Act of 2015), from contaminated water (JWV supports the Honoring Americas Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2015), and from exposure experienced by our Vietnam War Navy Veterans. JWV also supports the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2017 (HR 299 and S422).

Prevention of veteran suicide is one of the most important issues for JWV. The VA reports that on average, 20 veterans a day die by suicide. This is unacceptable. JWV and NC Singer strongly urges Congress to pass the Sgt. Brandon Ketchum Never Again Act (HR 874). The provisions of this act would help ensure same-day treatment for veterans calling in to the VA crisis line.

The topics mentioned above are just a few of JWV’s Legislative Priorities, which are our goals and topics of concern for Congress. The priorities initially start as Resolutions, which are submitted on a yearly basis. They are first determined at a Post level, and then are refined and voted upon by the Department. Any Resolution that passes at the Department level is forwarded to National for further discussion and debate at JWV’s annual convention. Those that are voted on and passed by the general body become the policies of our organization and are the basis for the Legislative Priorities.

Stay tuned for more information about how to submit Resolutions and participate in our 2017 Convention Resolutions process, even if you are unable to join us in San Antonio.  All JWV members are encouraged to participate in this important process!

Volume 71. Number 2. Summer 2017