Fiona Ma for State Assembly

Speaker pro Tempore Fiona Ma and Assemblymember Jeff Gorell Urge CA Colleges and Universities to Give College Credit for Heroes

Assembly Speaker pro Tempore Fiona Ma (D-San Francisco and San Mateo Counties) and Assemblymember Jeff Gorell (R-Camarillo) joined together to ask the Assembly Committee on Higher Education to urge California's institutions of higher learning, the University of California, California State University and the California Community Colleges to move cohesively and in an expeditious manner to evaluate and adopt the American Council on Education's (ACE) credit recommendations to give veterans their due credit for appropriate military experience.

More than half a million veterans, their dependents, and active-duty military personnel are taking postsecondary courses. The post-9/11 G.I. Bill provides 36 months of tuition equal to the cost of the most-expensive public university in the state, plus a housing allowance and book stipend. Yet even with the generous financial assistance from the federal government, veterans are not graduating at the rates that they should be. Most importantly, the skills that they have acquired in their years of service are not transferring over to careers in their home state.

"The service members that I worked with in Afghanistan all received months and even years of formal training to perform their military duties," stated Assemblymember Jeff Gorell. "It's a tragedy that we have not done everything we can to help them transfer training that is appropriate and has been professionally evaluated into college credits that will turn military education into a civilian career."

Rusty academic skills and a sense of alienation from younger classmates can make it hard for veterans to succeed on campus. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can also factor into the obstacles for adjustment to a civilian lifestyle. The failure to successfully reintegrate into a stable family life and career are some of the biggest factors which homeless veterans claim lead to homelessness. According to a Point-in-Time count and survey taken in 2011 in San Francisco more than 6,455 veterans were found to be homeless and on the streets.

"For many of our veterans returning from war, translating the work of war to peacetime jobs can be the difference between success and homelessness," said Assemblywoman Ma. "Recognizing the skills that our veterans gained and giving them the credit that will facilitate their progress through college and to a career is the least we can do for our heroes."

ACR 159 asks California's institutions to move in an expedited, cohesive and comprehensive manner to give our veterans the appropriate credit they are due and to consider the recommendations that ACE has created for many other states in the nation. At a time when so many of our veterans are returning home from combat to try to build a home and career in California, ACR 159 asks our institutions of higher learning to take a leadership role in assisting our veterans in re-integrating into civilian life.