Gov. Rick Perry officially launched the College Credit for Heroes program on Thursday, July 14, at a bill-signing ceremony held at St. Philip’s College in San Antonio. Administered by the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC), the $3 million workforce development initiative is designed to recognize the exceptional knowledge and skills gained by military service members and award them college credits for their military experience, allowing these veterans to more easily reenter the workforce.
SB 1736, authored by Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, seeks to maximize academic credit awarded by higher education institutions to veterans and military service members. Experience, education and training obtained during military service will be evaluated for college credit in order to expedite the entry of veterans and military service members into the workforce.
“The knowledge and skills our veterans bring back from service are an important, and all too often untapped, resource for our communities,” said Gov. Perry. “While we can never fully thank them for their service to our nation, I am proud of the steps we took this session, which will help veterans and military service members transition to civilian life by applying their skills and experience to help them graduate more quickly and save money on tuition.”
Seven community colleges were selected to participate in the College Credit for Heroes program. The colleges will provide models for awarding college credit by evaluating military training, including testing and prior learning assessments which other Texas colleges may replicate. There will be a focus on allied health careers, and the initiative will partner with the Military Education Training Center (METC) in San Antonio to provide current active duty service members with an accelerated degree plan.
“Approximately 25,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans separate from the service and return to Texas every year,” said TWC Chairman Tom Pauken. “These young men and women have answered our country’s call under very difficult circumstances and they deserve the best support we can provide to help them make a successful transition to the civilian world.”
According to the Texas Veterans Commission, Texas is home to 1.8 million veterans, including 450,000 who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. College Credit for Heroes helps address high unemployment rates seen in veterans who served on active duty after September 2001.
“Service men and women are highly skilled, experienced individuals who have a tremendous amount to offer their communities when they return home after serving their country,” said TWC Commissioner Representing Labor Ronny Congleton. “College Credit for Heroes will ultimately give our returning veterans faster employment opportunities and help fulfill the workforce needs in Texas.”
College Credit for Heroes also builds on the Texas Veterans Leadership Program, a TWC initiative that connects veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with the tools they need to assimilate into civilian life by providing employment and training services, resources and referrals. Together these programs help prepare veterans for academic and professional success.
“The colleges participating in the College Credit for Heroes program were specifically chosen to serve areas with high veteran populations,” said TWC Commissioner Representing the Public Andres Alcantar. “This program will maximize the college credit that can be granted to these heroes for their military training and occupational experience.”