Veterans Fight to Earn More Class Credits for Service
Andy Davis

Veterans that choose to attend college after their service are finding it difficult to receive recognition for credits they received through the Army/American Education Registry Transcript System.

The system offers official transcripts for eligible soldiers by comparing military education and job experience with descriptions and college credit recommendations set forth by the American Council on Education. According to the description web page on goarmyed. com, the transcripts contain information such as current or highest rank, military status (active or inactive duty), a list of formal military courses, and standardized test scores and credit recommendations developed by the council on education.

Student veterans like Chris Hofmann, a former military staff sergeant who retired after 20 years of service, are working on getting the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point to accept more of the credits that appear on the AARTS transcript. Most often student veterans are only given two credits of wellness toward their degree.

“The credits I received didn’t really reflect the training I had, especially over a 20 year period,” Hofmann said.

Hofmann was initially offered two credits of wellness that appeared on the Degree Progress Report. He said he spent over eight hours over the course of multiple days, talking with administrators and faculty about receiving more credits. He was finally awarded credits that counted as electives.

“I really tried to get the entire veteran’s club with me, and now there’s a big interest,” Hofmann said. “I mean, people have been in Afghanistan for years, and they don’t get nonwestern credits.”

Hofmann’s situation is atypical. Many students do not work to get more credits. Patrick Seybert only received the two credits of wellness toward his general resource management degree. Seybert said that, as a sergeant, he had to take a warrior leader course, attend infantry school and give classes constantly, yet was still required to take Communication 101, the public speaking course.

“I got an A in Comm 101 because it was easy for me. When you’re a Sergeant, you give classes every day. I also had to take nonwestern culture classes after being stationed in Iraq for 27 months,” Seybert said.

The difficulty of this issue lies in the disconnect between class credits and “real world” experience.

“I understand that I can’t just say ‘I did this, give me credit,’” Richard Gaffney said. Gaffney served as a military medic for seven years, and was required to take Healthy American, a freshman level wellness class.

“I was a trauma medic. I was in charge of $3 million of medical and military equipment and people’s lives every day,” Gaffney said.

Gaffney said that taking the class was not a problem, it was just a waste of time and money. Under the Serviceman’s Readjustment Act— informally known as the G.I. Bill— the cost of tuition, books and living is covered for 36 months. These student veterans are using the government’s money to pay for things they have already learned.

“I haven’t stopped talking about it since I’ve gotten here. It’s tragic,” Hofmann said. “These are human beings who have learned how to do something, and they have to learn it again.”

“Financially, for the state and national governments, it’s a waste,” Gaffney said.

Gaffney said that his last semester will consist of three to four credits that could have been covered by his military transcript.

UWSP is working actively with the Veteran’s Club to increase the number of accepted credits. Gaffney mentioned that there is currently a proposal that, if implemented, will analyze individual transcripts and compare the recommended credits to existing classes at UWSP.

As more information becomes available about this issue, The Pointer Online will be updated.