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Mr. Walter G. Blackwell

Mr. Walter G. Blackwell, National Veterans Business Development Corporation, President and Chief Executive Officer, The Veterans Corporation

Chairwoman Herseth Sandlin, Ranking Member Boozman, and distinguished members of the Subcommittee, I thank you for giving me the opportunity to submit for the record TVC’s position on Accelerated Education Benefits for Veterans.  My name is Walter G. Blackwell; I am the President and CEO of The Veterans Corporation and a Navy Veteran.

The National Veterans Business Development Corporation, doing business as The Veterans Corporation, is a Federally-chartered 501(c)(3) organization charged with creating and enhancing entrepreneurial business opportunities for Veterans, including Service-Disabled Veterans.

Section 305 of Public Law 108-183 allows individuals to use VA educational assistance for non-degree, non-credit entrepreneurship courses offered by designated organizations called “qualified providers.”  These courses may be pursued under the Montgomery GI Bill (chapter 30), the Veterans’ Educational Assistance Program (chapter 32), the Montgomery GI Bill-Selected Reserve (chapter 1606) and section 903 of Public Law 96-342, but not under the Dependents’ Educational Assistance program (chapter 35). Public Law 107-103 outlines the accelerated payment provisions for recipients of VA educational benefits under Chapter 30 (MGIB).  While the concept of accelerated payments has been recognized by enactment of recent law, its implementation has fallen short.  The Veterans Corporation (TVC) concern has been that Veterans can not pay for short-term, high cost entrepreneurial programs, which are often not delivered by academic institutions and do not fit familiar models of traditional course delivery.

For Veterans wishing to seek entrepreneurial training through the courses/training currently available through TVC and our partners; accelerated payment only covers part of the training cost. TVC is cautious to develop and offer additional entrepreneurial courses to Veterans because the MGIB does not cover the full cost. 

For example, the MGIB only covers 70% of the cost toward the Owner-Operator Business Management Seminar available to Veterans who wish to become an Independent Owner-Operator of a heavy-duty truck.  Additionally the MGIB only covers 60% of the cost towards the Veterans Commercial Drivers License Training.  This leaves the Veteran left to typically pay more then $1,000 for the training needed to start his/her own truck driving business.

TVC recommends that steps are taken to correct the situation and allow Veterans the opportunity to use their education benefits to cover the entire cost of “short term-high cost programs” and distance learning, and not limit payment only to the high tech programs currently defined by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Thank you again Madame Chairwoman.  This concludes my statement.