A Central Texas College official was invited to the White House this week to participate in a forum on veterans education issues.
The college’s deputy chancellor of campus operations, Jim Yeonopolus, was one of 60 representatives from various organizations and institutions to participate in a roundtable on military credit and licensure, which met Monday at the White House in Washington, D.C.
The roundtable, attended by Vice President Joseph Biden and first lady Michelle Obama, was created to obtain information and ideas on ways to allow veterans to use their military training in career areas toward college credit or professional licences.
“In the military you have all these people being trained and educated as medics, mechanics and other areas,” Yeonopolus said. “We want to be able to look at that training and award them credit.”
Yeonopolus said that many times, service members with specialized training must retake basic classes to obtain credits or licenses in the civilian world. While some colleges, like CTC, try to award credit for such experience, other colleges, universities and professional licensing organizations may not.
“It’s like they have to start all over again,” he said. “It can be very discouraging.”
The issue is not unfamiliar to the college. CTC is a partner in the state’s College Credit For Heroes initiative. Administered through the Texas Workforce Commission, the program includes a website, developed by CTC, that allows current and former service members to find out how many college credits they can receive for their military experience.
However, whether it is in Texas or other states, participation in such programs is up to the schools themselves, and implementing a comprehensive system on a nationwide basis will require coordination between higher education institutions, the military, the Department of Veterans Affairs and both state and federal legislators.
“There are a lot of moving parts, and it’s a very complex issue,” Yeonopolus said. “We need to develop a model and find a way to make this work as rapidly as possible.”
Yeonopolus said he felt the White House was receptive to the ideas that came from the roundtable.