Joining Forces Blog

  • New Feedback System for GI Bill and Tuition Assistance Recipients

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau blog. See the original post here.

    In April 2012, at Fort Stewart, GA, I was privileged to watch President Obama sign Executive Order 13607: Establishing Principles of Excellence for Educational Institutions Serving Service members, Veterans, Spouses and other Family Members.

    The Order directed the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense, in consultation with other government agencies, to create a system that would hold educational institutions accountable for the quality of the programs that they provide to those who use military-related education benefits. Its intent was to give military personnel, veterans, and their families the information they need to make informed decisions about where to spend their hard-earned military benefit dollars – and a place to complain if things went wrong.

    Today, the CFPB is very pleased to join the Departments of Veterans Affairs, Defense, Education, and Justice, as well as the Federal Trade Commission, in announcing a new online student complaint system where servicemembers, veterans, and their families can report negative experiences at education institutions and training programs administering the Post-9/11 GI Bill, DoD Military Tuition Assistance, and other military-related education benefit programs.

    This new feedback system, modeled after CFPB’s complaint system, will help the government identify and address unfair, deceptive, and misleading practices. It’s also intended to have the larger effect of ensuring high-quality academic and student support services for veterans, service members, and their families.

    Thanks to all the interagency partners who worked so hard to create this tool that gives military and veteran students the ability to help shape and improve the higher-education experience for themselves, their families and future veterans!

    GI Bill recipients can use the new VA GI Bill® Feedback System. DoD Tuition Assistance recipients can provide their feedback as well.

    Holly Petraeus leads the Office of Servicemember Affairs at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

  • U.S. Chamber Foundation and Goodwill Help Veterans and Military Spouses by Providing Career Services

    On January 16, 2014, Goodwill Industries and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes program launched a partnership that will help veterans and military spouses in their transition into civilian life. Goodwill now provides comprehensive vocational services at Hiring Our Heroes job fairs across the country, which is another valuable resource for veterans and military spouses. Goodwill will also offer employment workshops and resume review to help our veterans and military spouses find employment. A list of Hiring Our Heroes job fairs can be found here.

    Joining Forces congratulates these two organizations for their efforts in helping our veterans and military spouses’ transition into their new careers. Organizations that help our veterans find employment are helping ensure that our veterans get the help and benefits they deserve after serving our nation.

    In 2011, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden implemented the Joining Forces initiative to connect service men and women, veterans, and spouses with the resources they need to find jobs. In April of that year, Goodwill launched a new initiative, Goodwill for America’s Heroes and Their Families, to expand its face-to-face career and family-strengthening services.

    The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation (USCCF) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

    Colonel Rich Morales is the Executive Director for Joining Forces.

  • New Online Portal Provides Way for Military and Veteran Students and Their Families to Provide Feedback on Schools and Training Programs

    This week, VA, DOD, and the Department of Education released an online feedback tool designed to give military and veteran education beneficiaries the power to report negative experiences with the education institutions and training programs they attend as beneficiaries of the Post-9/11 GI Bill and military tuition assistance programs. These agency partners, along with the Department of Justice, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and Federal Trade Commission, will review complaints and identify any problems that need to be addressed. By reporting schools who are failing to follow the President’s Principles of Excellence, students can help improve the school experience for themselves and other beneficiaries of military and veteran education benefit programs.

    Military and veteran students and their family members can submit feedback at www.benefits.va.gov/gibill/feedback.asp. Tuition Assistance (TA) or Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts (MyCAA) Scholarship recipients can submit feedback at www.militaryonesource.mil/voluntary-education/complaint. Federal financial aid recipients can send feedback to Compliancecomplaints@ed.gov.

    On April 27, 2012, President Obama signed Executive Order 13607 to address reports of misleading or predatory behavior toward veterans, service members, and their families pursuing higher education. EO 13607 directs agencies to establish, implement, and promote compliance with “Principles of Excellence” for educational institutions that interact with veterans, service members, and their families. The new feedback system is just one in a series of new tools launched recently to help veteran and military education beneficiaries learn more about their vocational aptitudes, select an educational institution, and best use their educational benefits. Additional resources include:

    • The “Factors to Consider When Choosing a School” guide offers future students steps to take when researching, choosing, and attending a school.
    • CareerScope® is a free, new tool that measures a student’s aptitude and interests through a self-administered online test, identifying potential career paths.

    Curt Coy is Deputy Under Secretary for Economic Opportunity, Department of Veterans Affairs. Jessica Wright is Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, Department of Defense.

  • Sgt. 1st Class Cory Remsburg Soldiers On With VA Support

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted from the Department of Veterans Affairs' VAntage Point blog. See the original post here.

    Sgt. 1st Class Cory Remsburg (left) shakes hands with Secretary Eric Shinseki before the State of the Union address.

    Sgt. 1st Class Cory Remsburg (left) shakes hands with Secretary Eric Shinseki before the State of the Union address. (by Department of Veterans Affairs)

    Last night, after years of pain and rehabilitation, Sgt. 1st Class Cory Remsburg sat with the First Lady as President Obama delivered the State of the Union address in Washington, D.C. His father and caretaker, Craig, was next to him in the House gallery when the President began to talk about Cory’s injuries and long road to recovery.

    “Cory is here tonight. And like the Army he loves, like the America he serves, Sgt. 1st Class Cory Remsburg never gives up, and he does not quit,” said President Obama.

    What followed was a moment that united all in attendance and Americans watching at home. As Cory stood up from his seat with the help of his father, the House chamber erupted with applause. The smile, thumbs-up, and a wave from the soldier to the commander in chief was not only endearing – it was a shining glimpse into how far Cory had come.

    “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for him,” said Craig earlier on Tuesday as he and Cory visited VA headquarters to meet with Secretary Eric Shinseki. “There is a lot going on in America today, and if Cory’s story can add some inspiration to people’s lives … that’s what it’s all about.”

  • Military Spouse Employment Partnership and Hiring Our Heroes: Expanding Career Opportunities for Military Spouses

    As a service member, my job is where the military sends me. It’s quite a different story for military spouses. Frequent moves are often a barrier to finding and maintaining a rewarding career. I know that those of us in uniform share the belief that our spouses deserve every opportunity to choose and pursue a career that is personally and professionally rewarding. That’s why I am proud of the Department of Defense’s Military Spouse Employment Partnership.

    The Military Spouse Employment Partnership, or MSEP, expands career opportunities for military spouses among companies that are eager to hire them. It provides companies direct access to military spouses seeking career opportunities and connects spouses to employers who are actively recruiting. MSEP currently has more than 200 partners who have hired more than 55,000 military spouses.

    MSEP also formed the Spouse Ambassador Network, to raise awareness about the challenges related to employment, increase career opportunities and assist in developing career paths that follow military spouses as they relocate.

    MSEP is based on the premise that hiring military spouses is good business. Spouses bring hard-to-find values and skills to a wide range of fields, including education and training, health care and financial services. They are tech-savvy, adaptable, resilient, strong leaders, team players and effective under pressure.

    MSEP is part of DoD’s broader Spouse Education and Career Opportunities (SECO) program, which seeks to strengthen education and career opportunities for military spouses. The Chamber of Commerce Foundation partners with DoD in support of SECO. The Chamber’s Hiring Our Heroes program helps veterans, transitioning service members and military spouses find meaningful employment.

    Hiring Our Heroes holds hiring fairs specifically designed for military spouses in communities across the United States. These events allow military spouses to meet with employers who are committed to hiring them. Hiring Our Heroes also arranges networking receptions for military spouses across the country to better connect them with local military, community and business leaders.

    During the month of January, while we are setting goals for 2014, I hope that military spouses will take time to explore the opportunities available to help them meet their education and career planning goals. Spouse Education and Career Opportunities, in conjunction with the MySECO website, can provide them with wide-ranging resources and tools to help them explore careers, find education and training, prepare for employment and make career-enhancing connections.

    Colonel Rich Morales is the Executive Director for Joining Forces

  • Serving Up STEM at Aberdeen High

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted from the Office of Science and Technology blog. See the original post here.

    Today, OSTP’s Associate Director for National Security and International Affairs, Patricia Falcone and Joining Forces Executive Director, Colonel Rich Morales, are visiting Aberdeen High School in Aberdeen, MD, celebrating that school’s designation by the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) as NMSI’s “School of the Year.”
     
    Aberdeen High is one of the Nation’s many schools with a high proportion of students whose parents are in the military—in this case, serving at the U.S. Army base at Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG). These children often face unique academic challenges, in part because their parents tend to move so frequently. That’s why, in 2010, OSTP and the White House Joining Forces initiative worked with NMSI to bring NMSI’s Comprehensive Advanced Placement (AP) Program to schools that serve large numbers of military families. The Program provides enhanced teacher training and mentorship, extra time on-task for students, Saturday study sessions, and incentives for students and teachers, all aimed at boosting success in AP courses—which can give students a significant advantage as they head to college.
     
    NMSI’s Aberdeen program launched in the 2012-2013 school year and made an immediate, impressive impact. The average increase in passing scores on AP math, science, and English exams was 137 percent—19 times the average increase nationally—and helped earn the school NMSI’s coveted  “School of the Year” award.