Veterans get boost for teacher education 

By Allie Nash

More Hoosier veterans could be moving from the front lines to the front of the classroom under a bill that will take effect July 1.

Senate Bill 331 creates the Second Service for Veterans program, which gives former soldiers college credits for education and training they received in the service.

click to enlarge UNITED STATES ARMY
  • United States Army
The credits would count towards degree in education and help veterans become Indiana teachers.

"Veterans gain invaluable experience in the military that ought to be considered during college applications and when obtaining appropriate licensing through the state of Indiana," Emily Hildebrand, the director of development and public policy for Hoosiers Veterans Assistance Foundation.

"Often times, military courses and training are far more rigorous than their civilian equivalents and allowing this experience to translate into credits and professional licenses serves both the veteran and our community well," Hildebrand said.

The bill requires state-funded colleges to:

  • Provide academic and career counseling specifically designed for veterans in the school of education.
  • Offer in-state tuition to out-of-state veteran students who apply and are accepted into the program.
  • Develop an initiative to attract and recruit veterans to the school of education.

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The law also calls for colleges to coordinate the new Second Service with the existing Combat to College Program, which the General Assembly created to help veterans succeed in higher education.

Russ Eaglin, deputy director of the Indiana Department of Veteran's Affairs, said he appreciates the bill's emphasis on teaching.

"Veterans have our country's values and an oath to service. This allows them to continue to serve as educators and give what they have learned," Eaglin said.

Eaglin also believes that it will be good for young people to hear about the experiences the veterans have had.

Rep. Dennis Zent, R-Angola, is a veteran and co-authored the bill. He said veterans are a "great untapped resource" as teachers that are part of the Baby Boom generation retire.

"Veterans have a unique experience and can fill those open jobs," he said.

Zent said the credits that veterans could earn for their service could count as either college electives or for classes education majors are required to take. But Zent said that some vets would have as many as 25-30 credits coming into school after their service.

Allie Nash is a reporter at TheStatehouseFile.com, a news service powered by Franklin College journalism students.

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