Education issues challenge veterans


“Readin’, writin’ and ‘rithmatic” used to be a mantra when it came to educating veterans and others. But today when it comes to educating veterans, and veterans educating others, the challenges regarding funding and adequate personnel are much more complicated.

Veterans who are interested in taking classes to earn a pilot’s license are currently up in the air (pun intended) about the future of such training. The House is studying H.R. 3016, the Veterans Employment, Education and Healthcare Improvements Act, which some general aviation groups are opposed to.

If passed, the act would cap flight-training tuition and fees at $20,235. According to press reports and comments by civilian leaders of several air transportation associations, that amount of money provides challenges to advanced flight-training benefits. The average cost to earn just a basic pilot’s license is around $10,000. To continue advanced training that could lead to a professional position for a scheduled airline is easily in the area of $75,000 or more, although there are minor exceptions that could reduce the cost to a somewhat lesser degree.

Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., has introduced an amendment to H.R. 636, the Federal Administration Reauthorization Act of 2016. The stated purpose of that legislation is to improve employment opportunities for veterans by requiring the head of the Federal Aviation Administration to determine whether occupations at the agency related to unmanned aircraft systems’ technology and regulations can be incorporated into the veterans employment program.

Heller’s amendment does not address the contentious funding cap. But he issued a statement about his amendment claiming that passage of H.R. 636 would provide for more employment opportunities for veterans in the field of unmanned aircraft system technology.

Veterans who are more concerned with Earth-bound employment might consider applying to be an educator for the Clark County School District. Known by the dual names of Troops to Teachers and Troops to Education, the district is seeking veterans for full-time or part-time positions, noting that many veterans have special skills and talents.

Meg Nigro, the executive director of recruitment and development for the human resources unit of the school district, told me those talents can be demonstrated through the ability of veterans to work in teams; to relate to individuals from a wide range of age groups and economic, ethnic and educational backgrounds; and by a sense of community along with their willingness to support the nation.

Nigro said that individuals with bachelor’s degrees in any subject area may be eligible for state-approved teacher preparation programs leading to licensing and full-time employment in area schools. Individuals without a bachelor’s degree can be eligible to become accredited substitute teachers. And there is also a large demand for support staff including such positions as instructional aides, bus drivers, custodians, electricians, food service workers, mechanics and school safety/police officers.

Nigro, is assisted by GeorgeAnn Rice, the retired assistant superintendent of human resources for the district. Rice encourages interested veterans to go to troopstoeducation.eventbrite.com. Teachers and candidates for other positions are currently being interviewed and trained for the upcoming school year that begins in August. Approximately 2,000 new teachers are needed for the coming school year, along with 400 support staff individuals.

Chuck N. Baker is an Army veteran of the Vietnam War and a Purple Heart recipient. Every other Sunday he discusses veterans issues over several Lotus Broadcasting AM radio stations in Southern Nevada.