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NASAA President's Message 2016
For almost seventy years now, State Approving Agencies and the National Association of State Approving Agencies have been helping military service members make a successful transition to the civilian world by approving quality programs of education and training for the GI Bill®. In performing this mission, State Approving Agencies have worked diligently to maximize education and training opportunities for veterans while at the same time only approving education and training programs that meet the laws and regulations of both federal and state governments. Since 1947, State Approving Agencies have served as committed partners in a state and federal partnership that has created and sustained one of the most successful government programs in our nation’s history. The result is that the GI Bill® has assisted millions of veterans in acquiring their education and training goals.
In this role, as the nexus between the federal and state governments, State Approving Agencies have emerged as the face of the GI Bill at the state and local government level. Moreover, the State Approving Agencies mission to approve both education and training programs has placed them in a distinctive role, as no other federal or state agency has a similar mission to evaluate and approve such a wide range of education and training programs. In performing this unique mission, State Approving Agencies routinely communicate and work with state boards and agencies overseeing higher education, secondary education, vocational education, and occupational licensing. They also work daily with approved universities, colleges and vocational schools. Furthermore, State Approving Agencies regularly interact with local apprenticeship officials and both private and public employers in developing on-the-job training programs for transitioning servicemembers and veterans, who may not be able to pursue post-secondary education. State Approving Agencies also review for approval vocational flight training programs, cooperative programs, and licensing and certification exams. Without a doubt, the work of State Approving Agencies in approving both programs, and as serving as liaison between the federal and state government, has created the foundation for a federal-state partnership, upon which the success of the GI Bill® program rests.
With the establishment of the Post 9/11 GI Bill, however, many challenges and opportunities have emerged for those interested in the well-being and future of the GI Bill®. Working with our partners at the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, and other important stakeholders, including the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Student Veterans of America, National Association of Veteran Program Administrators, National Association of State Directors of Veterans Affairs, among others, State Approving Agencies will continue to complete their statutorily assigned mission. The completion of this mission, however, has become more challenging for State Approving Agencies, which have not received an increase in funding since FY2008. This fact, coupled with the added workload created by passage of the Post 9/11 GI Bill and the responsibility of conducting compliance surveys for the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, has made the situation facing State Approving Agencies tenuous. Notwithstanding this challenge, the National Association of State Approving Agencies, and its member State Approving Agencies, will continue to focus their effort on completing the primary mission of approving and supervising programs of education and training in our individual states.
Finally, the National Association of State Approving Agencies and its members stand ready to ensure the overall success of the GI Bill®. In doing so, we will work with the various Veterans Service Organizations and other interested parties to ensure the continued integrity of the GI Bill® for our veterans and eligible dependents. Moreover, we will continue to cooperate with our partners at the United States Department of Veterans Affairs to ensure effective and efficient administration of the GI Bill® program. Furthermore, State Approving Agencies will continue to work conscientiously to maximize education and training opportunities for veterans while at the same time only approving education and training programs that meet the laws and regulations of both federal and state governments. Most importantly, the National Association of State Approving Agencies remains committed to providing a secure path to a brighter future for one of our nation’s most treasured and exceptional assets – our veterans.