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Government Affairs On The Web

NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2011

 

Business, Jobs, And Education

BY RIC DAVIDGE, CHAIR, WITH GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS STAFF

The VA’s Center for Veterans Enterprise (CVE) was created to help veterans and service-disabled veteran small-business owners. Less than three years ago CVE was known as a place where veterans’ advocates helped veterans get their businesses off the ground and become competitive. Now it has become the enemy of veteran-owned businesses. 

Now CVE is called the Center for Verification & Evaluation. It is infamous for accusing legitimate veteran businesses of fraud and wrecking their businesses through bureaucratic bungling and insensitivity. CVE has ruined legitimate and successful service-disabled veteran-owned businesses, costing business owners their livelihood and the veterans who worked in those businesses their jobs. 

This is not good government. It’s in contravention of both law and common sense, and it does not even save money. Congress and the White House need to step in and stop the destruction of small businesses and veterans’ livelihoods. 

JOBS FOR VETERANS? 

The big issue in the 2010 midterm elections was jobs. Since then, Congress, especially the House of Representatives, has fixated on cutting funding to narrow the deficit. And while President Obama has proposed a significant jobs bill, one that will benefit out-of-work veterans, House Republicans have not moved on it. 

The Veterans’ Affairs Committees in the Senate and the House have been working on legislation, but the bills that have been passed in their respective bodies are not in synch. 

In the House, Committee Chair Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) has sponsored H.R. 2433, the Veterans Opportunity To Work Act of 2011, and shepherded it through the House, which passed the bill by a 418-6 vote on October 12. This measure would allow 100,000 unemployed veterans to apply for Montgomery GI Bill benefits. They could choose to learn high-demand skills for up to one year in areas such as health care and technology. The bill also seeks to strengthen work-leave protections under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act and would provide a retraining grant program for homeless veterans. 

On the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Patty Murray (D-Wash.) sponsored S. 951, the Hiring Heroes Act of 2011. This bill focuses more on hiring unemployed, disabled veterans who served in Afghanistan and Iraq. It also gives new veterans a 180-day opportunity upon leaving military service to gain federal jobs without competing against applicants from the public. A compromise bill was enacted Nov 10.

HIGHER EDUCATION?

VVA was a leader in the fight to pass the Post-9/11 GI Bill, which provides educational benefits for veterans who have served since September 11, 2001. Just as predatory entities sprung up then to feast off the generosity of the American people, so, too, have the predatory for-profits arisen now. 

According to a report by the Government Accountability Office, many large for-profit colleges have raked in millions of dollars while engaging in predatory practices to attract students who earn degrees or certificates that are, in effect, worthless. The VA is culpable. Only after congressional hearings that focused a light on this scandal of significant proportions has the VA taken action—mild action at best. 

Many of the predatory for-profits are sending their students to Capitol Hill to extol their all-but-worthless degrees. These predators, who spend almost no money on libraries or educational materials, do spend a great deal of money on marketing, pandering to the veterans’ community, and on high-pressure recruiting of veterans. 

It’s time for the VA—and for Department of Justice and the FBI—to crack down hard. Among the for-profit entities targeted by GAO investigators: University of Phoenix, Argosy University, Kaplan College, Everest College, Westech College, Bennett Career Institute, Potomac College, MedVance Institute’s College of Office Technology, Anthem Institute, Westwood College, and ATI Career Training.

There must be a swift and thorough investigation. If it is shown that these businesses took money from American taxpayers and in return gave American veterans empty dreams, they ought to be publicly embarrassed, ostracized, and humiliated. 

Not all for-profit colleges or training schools are bad. Not all online or distance learning programs are frauds. But the VA and DoD must provide appropriate oversight and must demand the authority and resources to get the job done.

 

 

 

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January 20, 2012 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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