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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2013 - 2014 Regular Session


Posted: May 13, 2013 10:13 AM
From: Senator Lisa Baker
To: All Senate members
Subject: The DOVE Program: Developing Opportunities in Veterans’ Education

Please join me in co-sponsoring legislation to encourage colleges and universities to become more military-friendly.

As a steady flow of service members return from Iraq and Afghanistan, many community colleges and public and private colleges and universities are finding themselves ill-prepared for this influx of younger veterans. In addition to financial hurdles and an array of confusing aid programs, these veterans are experiencing unintended barriers as they transition from combat to campus, including variations in academic credits awarded for military service, a sense of isolation from the non-veteran community, and scant support for veterans with special needs.

This bill was developed after a joint hearing by the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee and the Senate Education Committee last June, and incorporates the input of a working group which met last December, the experience of other states, and the feedback of the Student Veterans of America.

The provisions would require each college, community college and university to do the following:

  • designate a single point of contact for veterans, from whom they can receive help with admission, benefits, peer mentoring, and other academic, social, personal and financial needs
  • post their veterans’ services and programs on their website and their campus brochure
  • post their withdrawal policies for mobilization and deployment and credit transfer on their website and/or other readily accessible points,
  • track veterans through the application process and report the number of veterans to the Office of Veterans Services within the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) .

The Department of Education would be able to certify a campus as a “Serving Our Veterans” Campus, which would mean it offers at least three of the following:

  • a campus survey of student veterans to identify needs
  • a campus steering committee consisting of student-veterans, faculty and staff to share information
  • sensitivity and awareness training on military and veterans’ culture, including issues related to Traumatic Brain Injury, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, suicide, and physical and mental disabilities
  • student-veteran orientation programs, including student-veteran guides for the first day on campus, an optional student-veterans’ orientation session and at least one optional veterans-only course taught by a veteran or trained volunteer on veterans’ issues.
  • peer mentoring and peer support programs for student-veterans
  • outreach strategies to local military bases
  • a centrally-located, one-stop resource and student center on campus for student-veterans, their families and student family members of soldiers who are currently deployed
  • community-based collaborations to allow the private sector to support veterans resource centers through financial aid and in-kind gifts.

Thank you for considering cosponsoring this bill.

Introduced as SB1004