The American Legion is expressing continued concern over repeated revelations of the alleged victimization of student veterans by for-profit schools, many of which are online. Some of the heavily advertised schools are accused of collecting large amounts of veterans education benefits in return for essentially useless college degrees.
Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and his staff have been conducting a year-long investigation into the matter and will share their findings with The American Legion and other organizations at a July 13 briefing in Washington. Harkin, chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions said, "What we found was really disturbing."
Harkin appeared on a June 28 broadcast of a PBS Frontline television documentary, "Educating Sergeant Pantzke," in which student veterans were shown being allegedly duped by aggressive and misleading recruiters into spending their benefits on education that was often of marginal quality with non-transferable credits and of little attractiveness to would-be employers.
Some of the recruiters, said the PBS report, were veterans themselves who believed they were helping fellow veterans while actually working as unsuspecting shills for the suspect schools.
"Not to sound glib, but when it comes to awarding sheepskins, some schools seem to be pulling the wool over the eyes of our young veterans," said Tim Tetz, legislative director of The American Legion. "We have been concerned with this issue ourselves for a year now. We're going to go to Senator Harkin's briefing with an open mind and ears, listen to what he has learned, what he proposes, and see if that will address the problem. We will certainly do our part as advocates for veterans to help right whatever wrongs are being committed."
Joe Sharpe, the Legion's economic director, said the victimization of veterans seeking a quality education "is absolutely unconscionable. As our own investigations have shown over the past year, our young men and women are enrolling in these schools in good faith and, in turn, are being scammed by snake oil salesmen parading as educators.
"We have already made our concerns known to the Department of Veterans Affairs - who have been very responsive - as well as to state accrediting authorities and, through their associations, to the schools themselves. We have made it clear to all that these practices must stop."
The PBS Frontline documentary can be viewed by clicking here.