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Commentary: Honor Veterans By Investing In Their Education

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On this Veterans Day, commentator and George Washington University President Steven Knapp thanks those who have risked so much in service to the nation as members of the armed forces. But he also asks for something more:

As our service members return in increasing numbers to civilian life, they need more than our thanks.

They need an opportunity to contribute to the flourishing of their communities and the growth of the U.S. economy at the highest levels they can achieve.

Colleges and universities have a particular responsibility to help our veterans meet their aspirations to serve in civilian life as they served so well in the military. As a university president, I know firsthand that our campuses benefit immensely from the presence of student veterans. These students have a proven capacity to lead, often in situations of extreme complexity and dire emergency.

Their experiences and their unique perspectives enrich our classroom. And their deep commitment to serve their communities inspires their fellow students to embrace the values they embody.

Many colleges and universities, George Washington included, are reaching out to veterans by participating in the Yellow Ribbon Program, in which the cost of scholarship support for veterans is shared by the institution and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

This fall, George Washington has more than 500 student veterans, and more than half of those receive substantial scholarships through our Yellow Ribbon commitment. But scholarships alone are not enough. Student veterans often face unique challenges as they make the transition from military to academic life. So we also help student veterans succeed by providing dedicated staff and services to address those needs.

This investment is well worth it. Like many institutions, we count veterans among our most distinguished alumni. Recent examples include former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Veterans Affairs Assistant Secretary Tammy Duckworth, and retired Coast Guard Commandant and Deepwater Horizon National Incident Commander Thad Allen. We are proud of their service and the example they set for all our students.

I urge my colleagues at colleges and universities across the nation to come together in welcoming veterans to our campuses and doing what we can to ensure their success.

It's the right thing to do for them, for their fellow students and for our country.

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