Rochester Democrat and Chronicle Op-Ed: Honoring and Educating Veterans

Donald E. Bain, Ph.D, President, St. John Fisher College

This week, hundreds of thousands of veterans will remember and pay tribute to their fellow soldiers. Mothers and fathers will remember their sons and daughters, children will remember their parents, and still others will remember their spouses.

For those heroes who do return home, it is incumbent upon us to help them transition back into society once again.In 2008, the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill became law, providing financial support for education and housing to individuals who served in the military on or after Sept. 11, 2001. One year later, the benefits were expanded to include financial support for vocational and technical training. The Yellow Ribbon Program further expanded those benefits by providing funds to offset the difference between the cost of public and private education.

In New York state, more than 100 colleges and universities are part of this exceptional program (www.nycolleges.org/veterans/). Last year, approximately 2,200 former service members took advantage of these benefits to enroll at one of New York's institutions of higher education. Thanks to this program, veterans no longer have to worry about the affordability of college. At St. John Fisher College, we currently have 45 student-veterans receiving benefits under the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill. Prior to this bill, there were 21. We are honored that these 45 chose Fisher.Recently, a group of student-veterans at Fisher formed the Veteran Affairs Club. Their first fundraising event, taking place on Veterans Day, is called "Keep Your Chin Up for the Troops," raising money for the local Veteran's Outreach Center.

On this Veterans Day, please take the time to thank our veterans for their selfless dedication and commitment to safeguarding our freedoms.