The American Council on Education is projecting that more than 2 million veterans will be returning from the Afghanistan/Iraq wars. To prepare for the return of these veterans, the Post 9/11 Veterans Education Assistance Act of 2008, effective August 1, 2009, was passed to help veterans obtain the college education they have earned.
While these benefits exist to serve veterans, it has been noted that veterans may not take advantage of them due to the absence of easily accessible information, effective outreach, and veteran-friendly practices. Increased emphasis on veterans' services will strengthen the college's preparedness to successfully enroll and retain veterans and their dependents and assist them in gaining knowledge and skills to meet educational, employment and life goals thereby providing a well-trained workforce to enhance the regional economy.
While the college has been serving the area veteran population by providing educational opportunities over the many years of operation, this proposal would provide the opportunity to enhance services for currently enrolled veterans as well as prepare for the projected increase in veteran enrollment and be able to address the new benefits that will be available. With Southwestern Illinois College's proximity to Scott Air Force Base, the College currently serves a large veteran population, averaging between 600 - 800 veterans in attendance at Southwestern each semester. The region also supports multiple National Guard units in addition to active duty military personnel.