Each November 11, we pause to thank the nation’s nearly 20 million veterans for their service and sacrifice. In Ohio, veterans represent more than one out of every 15 citizens. As a holiday that began as a remembrance of the armistice signaling the end of World War I, each year Veterans Day marks the return to civilian life on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. In return for their service, we owe our veterans both gratitude and support. Many programs look to benefit veterans through jobs training, housing, and health services. In 2019, about 700,000 individuals benefited from $10.7 billion for all programs through the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Many of our veterans also look to various programs to continue their education at a post-secondary college or university.
At the University of Mount Union, we are fortunate to have 31 students in 15 different academic majors receiving Veterans Affairs educational benefits for the 2020 fall semester. Veterans are enrolled in courses and programs as varied as the arts and sciences, humanities, education, business, engineering, and the health sciences. As a Principles of Excellence institution, we have agreed to a higher standard of compliance and involvement with our students receiving Veterans Affairs educational benefits. These students bring a real-world perspective to our classes as they simultaneously benefit from an exceptional learning experience. The credentials and degrees attained align with our University’s mission statement to “prepare students for fulfilling lives, meaningful work, and responsible citizenship.”
Support for our students receiving Veterans Affairs educational benefits at Mount Union totals nearly $400,000 annually, primarily from federal sources, covering most tuition expenses in addition to some housing costs and textbooks. Most of these students receive the GI Bill – Post 9/11 Benefit, joining nearly one million veterans educated with support from the GI Bill. While in the past, enrollment was limited to 15 years after service, the benefit is now available for the lifetime of the veteran and, in some cases, can be directed to a veteran’s dependent. Further, Mount Union additionally provides up to a $5,000 institutional funding match to each of the 13 Yellow Ribbon students. The matching funds provide access to student-veterans or their dependents at private colleges and universities for both undergraduate and graduate studies. Yellow Ribbon students may take classes either full-time or part-time.
The impact of aid for higher education extends beyond those who have served on active duty. Respecting the impact of this substantial service and sacrifice for our nation, we also provide nine students with survivor and dependent educational assistance. Students are also enrolled through the Montgomery GI Bill, which supports selected reservists. As many veterans are the first in their family to attain a college degree, the breadth of educational benefits supports access for those who would not otherwise be enrolled.
Please join me in thanking our veterans for their service both on Veterans Day, November 11, and every day. We celebrate our freedom daily and must always remember the sacrifice of so many to guarantee and preserve our many freedoms.