As the father of two sons, both of whom serve in the military, Sen. Steve O’Ban knows the hardships military families face as they transition from the service back to civilian life. That’s one reason O’Ban has sponsored Senate Bill 5969 – a bill to award academic credit for military training – which received a public hearing Thursday in the Senate Committee on Higher Education.
“We ask so much of our brave men and women in uniform. They gain valuable training and experience making life and death decisions, mastering complicated IT and communications systems and managing millions of dollars’ worth of equipment. We need to recognize this valuable training and work they’ve accomplished while in the service as college credit,” O’Ban said. “I’ve spoken with dozens of military families and veterans who have cited the difficulties in transitioning from the service to a civilian education, and they all agree that the military training they receive should count toward a college degree.”
SB 5969 would require Washington’s colleges and universities to adopt, before 2016, policies on awarding academic credit to individuals for certain military training courses or programs. Among its other requirements, the individual must be enrolled in college and must have successfully completed any military training course or program as part of the individual’s military service that:
- Is recommended for credit by a national higher education association that provides credit recommendations for military training courses and programs;
- Is included in the individual’s military transcript issued by any branch of the armed services; or
- Is documented military training or experience that is substantially equivalent to any course or program offered by the institution of higher education.
In addition, each institution of higher education must provide a copy of its newly-created policy to any enrolled students who listed prior or present military service in their admission applications.
“There are so many ways to give back to our soldiers who put their lives on the line for our freedom every day, from waving flags to simply saying thanks,” O’Ban continued. “As a state senator I’m in the unique position of being able to create state policy that makes it more equitable for veterans who want to get a college education in Washington. It’s the least I can do.”
SB 5969 is expected to be approved by the committee in the coming weeks.