National Association of State Approving Agencies
National Association of State Approving Agencies
Advocates for quality education and training programs for our nation's veterans.
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Greetings from the President:

When this year began in January, the United States was experiencing the lowest employment rates in decades. Nearly anyone seeking a job – including our transitioning service members, veterans, and their family members – had an almost unlimited variety of opportunities to put their skills to work. Thousands of veterans took advantage of their GI Bill® and other benefits to obtain education and training to add skills to their resumes. Education and training institutions abounded and many sought approval from our State Approving Agencies (SAA) so they could enroll these veterans and their family members.

Virtually overnight, our world changed. By March, an unknown and deadly virus known as COVID-19 introduced us to a new norm. To prevent the spread of this virus, schools and businesses closed and all citizens were advised to stay home. Millions of Americans were laid off and the unemployment rates shot up. Our educational and training institutions were forced to close or switch to online instruction only. Our best plans were discarded. Many of our agencies were directed to close all offices. Veterans enrolled in SAA-approved programs began contacting our offices to find out if they could continue to receive their benefits. Legislation had to be quickly enacted to allow these changes. NASAA and our Legislative Committee were actively involved. We could no longer travel to schools to review and approve them, hold in person trainings to assist our schools or provide educational briefings to our transitioning servicesmembers on the installations. Within weeks, we learned to use videoconferencing to conduct business.

Our new norm dictates that we will not be going back to doing business as usual. While educational institutions are reopening, there will be limits on how many persons can attend classes in person. Online instruction will continue to be the norm. These schools will need direction and support from our SAAs more than ever on how to remain approved.

Many businesses may not reopen, unemployment is likely to remain high. More veterans, and family members will want to use their benefits to further their educational goals. With continued restrictions on travel and in-person meetings, SAAs will continue to work to strengthen our partnership with VA and our partners to ensure our Veterans and their family members have access to quality education and training. We are proud to announce that we as a national organization and individually as SAAs stand ready to meet the challenge.

SAAs remain committed to equal opportunities for all, regardless of race, sex, and other factors. We will ensure all approved institutions are aware they cannot discriminate against any student or applicant and, to remain approved, all students must be given an equal opportunity to succeed.

As your President and longtime NASAA member, I have no doubt that our NASAA members will work with our partners to develop effective policies that will help us embrace change and transform with the times. I know we will implement new procedures to ensure that our veterans, and their families, have the educational and training opportunities they seek.

Thank you and let us move forward together.

Annie Walker
NASAA President
Deputy Commissioner | Virginia Department of Veterans Services

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