Hearing talks GI Bill, jobs for veterans

Maleesa Johnson
Staff Writer

Baylor campus is to house its first congressional hearing to explore the various economic opportunities available to veterans in Texas.

U.S. Rep. Bill Flores, chairman of the House of Veterans’ Affairs subcommittee on economic opportunity, is holding the hearing.

The hearing is titled “Texas’ Innovative Approaches to Jobs and Employment for Veterans.”

It is to take place at 10 a.m. Wednesday in the Barfield Drawing Room of the Bill Daniel Student Center.

“Our objective is to find out what practices are working well to provide economic opportunity for veterans,” Flores said. “So in order to do that, we have a cross section of employers, educators and also a couple of state agencies so we can receive testimonies about what each of the organizations are doing and how it works for them.”

There will be four speakers representing four colleges: Baylor, McLennan Community College, Texas State Technical College and Texas A&M University.

The location of the hearing was selected because of Baylor’s centrality to the veteran community.

Andre Castro, Flores’ press secretary, said the subcommittee is able to have a field hearing in the district once each year. A field hearing is any hearing held outside of Washington.

“He picked Baylor because it’s central to Waco,” Castro said. “We have so many veterans in our district and we wanted a central location where a lot of vets are there and a lot of the information at the hearing pertains to a lot of the people in the area.”

The GI Bill is the primary bill that is listed on the subcommittee’s website. The bill was changed after Sept. 11, 2001. Flores said the main change was the increase in educational benefits.

“If a veteran wants to go to Baylor, which is typically more expensive than some other educational opportunities, there’s a good chance the GI Bill will cover a substantial amount of the cost, which is better than what the last GI Bill would do,” Flores said.

Flores said part of the purpose of the hearing is to potentially make changes to the GI Bill from an educational standpoint.

“There are some parts of the GI Bill that still need to be tweaked that make it more user-friendly not only for beneficiaries or veterans but for the institutions that are trying to educate our veterans,” Flores said. “We will take what we learn back and see if we need to make changes to the bill.”

Also speaking at the hearing is Dr. Janet Bagby, VETS Coordinator and senior lecturer in the department of educational psychology. VETS stands for Veteran Educational and Transition Services and is a center that aims to promote the academic success of veterans at Baylor.

“I’m pretty impressed with the program,” Flores said. “I’m looking forward to hearing her testify in person so we can take what I think is going to be the set of best practices back to Washington with me.”

Bagby said there are about 100 student veterans on campus and this hearing is important to them.

“What I will be sharing is what services we have we have in place now to serve our students vets,” Bagby said.