President Barack Obama Friday signed an executive order targeting questionable and dishonest practices by college recruiters hoping to sign up veterans to collect GI Bill benefits.
While many schools, for profit and non-profit alike, provide quality educations for members of the armed services and veterans, Obama said, there are also some "bad actors" who seek to take advantage.
"One of the worst examples of this is a college recruiter who had the nerve to visit a barracks at Camp Lejeune and enroll Marines with brain injuries -- just for the money," Obama said. "These Marines had injuries so severe some of them couldn't recall what courses the recruiter had signed them up for."
Obama added, "That's appalling. That's disgraceful. It should never happen in America."
Other veterans and service members have been told they could transfer credits only to find that they couldn't, been lured into high-interest student loans or seen promises of job placement programs turn out to be fictitious.
"They're trying to swindle and hoodwink you. And today, here at Fort Stewart, we're going to put an end to it," Obama said. "The executive order I'm about to sign will make life a whole lot more secure for you and your families and our veterans -- and a whole lot tougher for those who try to prey on you."
Obama said the order would require colleges to provide clear information on their qualifications and financial aid programs in a single "Know Before You Owe" fact sheet prior to enrolling veterans.
It will also require those schools to provide more counseling and help active duty members complete their degrees even if they're forced to move because of a deployment or reassignment.
The Administration will also tighten oversight of recruiting practices and make it easier for military members to file complaints.
"This is about making sure you succeed -- because when you succeed, our country succeeds," Obama said. "It's that simple."
Obama pointed to the success of the post-WWII veterans educated by the original GI Bill who forged the backbone of the U.S. middle class and turned the nation into an economic superpower.
"And all of you know something that America should never forget: Just as you rise or fall as one unit, we rise or fall as one nation," he said. "Just as you have each other's backs, what has always made America great is that we have each other's backs."
He added, "This country exists because generations of Americans worked together and looked out for one other. Out of many, we are one. Those are the values we've got to return to. If we do, there's nothing this country cannot achieve."
by RTT Staff Writer
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