HYDER: Help troops get the credit they deserve

Several veteran groups are imploring legislatures, governors, boards of regents, and presidents of universities and colleges to do right for service members and veterans when it comes to obtaining university and college credits. Credits are appropriate by having completed comparable, equivalent federal military schools and courses. Notwithstanding, the vast majority of public universities and colleges continue to perpetuate unfairness by disregarding accredited federal education.

Universities and colleges should ask prospective students for evidence of "Military Schools and Courses Completed," just as is done for other educational institutions, junior and community colleges attributed for transfer of credits. The practice should be a consistent, inclusive part of the application process at public universities and colleges.

Military service members and veterans, by virtue of completing an armed forces service school, are American Council of Education eligible for technical, associate, baccalaureate and masters hours of credit, reducing the number of courses they need to graduate.

Bill Harris, a Navy veteran and president of the Northeast Georgia Chapter Vietnam Veterans of America, provided a long rationale for fairness, ending with "Universities and colleges are more interested in money than in education."

Dennis Smalley, a disabled Army veteran, past helicopter door gunner in Vietnam, and member of the American Legion, believes the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill missed a golden opportunity to promote fairness. He said, "Historically, Congressional education bills strove mightily against discrimination, and the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill legislation could and should have been fashioned to require fairness for service members and veterans in order for universities and colleges to receive federal Post-9/11 G.I. Bill funding."

Henry Waters, an Army veteran, intelligence and communications specialist in Vietnam, and member of the Post 5255 Veterans of Foreign Wars in Lawrenceville, was in disbelief that a marine, SEAL, special forces, ranger, or paratrooper would have to take physical education.

Correction of this injustice would:

* Meaningfully recognize military service members and veterans who have completed armed forces service schools and courses while on active duty, or active duty for training in the case of the National Guard and Reserves;

* Eliminate the necessity of taking duplicative education material, first in the military and then in college;

* Save time that service members could otherwise spend with their families;

* Significantly reduce federal government cost outlays for education, paying first for the military schooling and then the university or college for the same material, equivalent course of instruction twice;

* Moreover, rather than being a financial disincentive to universities and colleges which benefit from every course times students taught, rightly accepting these credits will encourage more service members and veterans to enroll in and attain a university or college degree.

The above position is supported by our Commissioner of Veteran's Services, Pete Wheeler, who has held that title longer than any other similar official among all the states; and famed World War II Army Air Corps pilot and former governor of Georgia, the youngest ever elected in the nation's history, Carl Sanders. To them: Thanks from our veterans and military service members.

To politicians and educators "It's time to institute fairness."

Charles Hyder is a former professor at Georgia Southern University and Saint Leo University, and retired Army officer, who twice served in and commanded in Vietnam.