National Commander Barry Schneider presented JWV’s 2019 legislative priorities before a joint hearing of the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committees on March 12. In his testimony, he focused on the need to increase funding for veteran suicide prevention programs and protect student veterans from predatory for-profit colleges.
NC Schneider urged the committee to make veteran suicide prevention one of its highest priorities. Current research shows that 20 veteran suicides occur every day, and veterans are one and a half times more likely to commit suicide than non-veterans. “Suicide affects everyone—families, friends, and communities,” NC Schneider said. “JWV urges full mental health screening, using all available assessment tools, and full access to veterans facilities for all individuals exiting the military.”
Another top priority presented by NC Schneider were the challenges faced by student veterans. While he praised the Post 9/11 GI Bill and asked Congress to continue its commitment to veterans’ education benefits, he noted that predatory for-profit colleges and training programs have sprung up to take advantage of veterans seeking to use these benefits. These institutions “engage in misleading recruiting practices on military installations, and often fail to disclose meaningful information, preventing potential students to determine if a college has a good record of educating and positioning students for success in the work force.”
NC Schneider informed the committee that, during his travels as national commander, he has seen colleges that excel at supporting veterans. The University of Colorado at Boulder, for example, has established an office of Veteran and Military Affairs (VMA). The VMA is staffed by veterans and provides support to its student veterans during their transition from military to civilian and academic life.
“The Jewish War Veterans,” said NC Schneider, “asks the Department of Veterans Affairs and Congress to establish a ratings system to ensure that all education institutions that receive government funding meet at least minimum requirements and standards of accountability to ensure that our veterans can select, with confidence, a program which will meet their needs.”
Other priorities presented to the committee included reducing veteran homelessness, providing benefits to veterans suffering negative health effects due to burn pit exposure, and caring for Blue Water Navy veterans exposed to Agent Orange.
Volume 73. Number 1. 2019