Education System is Lining Their Pockets with VA Money
My name is Jason. I’m a former Navy Diver and Veteran. Since I made the decision to finish my enlistment 16 months ago and separate from the Navy, my goals have remained the same. I wanted to teach SCUBA diving in South Florida and be apart of helping other Veterans. But the education system is lining their pockets with VA Money.
A therapeutic program for combat veterans
I created a therapeutic offshore fishing and diving program for Combat Vets with PTSD with the goal of having them be able to sustain themselves financially in a therapeutic environment. The program is being run as part of the non-profit I am a part of: (www.theolivertreefoundation.org).
The program is currently sitting on the desk at the VA awaiting funding ($500K Adaptive Sports Grant). One of the skills we identified for these guys to utilize as an occupation was “SCUBA DIVING”. While I was still on active duty I was going to use my tuition assistance (TA) to pay for the skills required for me to get to the next level where I could begin teaching and making money.
Already trained in the field
For 16 months I have been trying to figure out how, after 10 years as a Navy Diver, anyone off the street can walk into a Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) authorized shop and have the same credentials as me in less than a week, yet PADI is still KNOWINGLY accepting funding from the VA and refuses to adjust their curriculum despite being notified multiple times.
To say that this is a slap in the face would be an understatement. This has been addressed multiple times with PADI and they have refused to acknowledge it. They are knowingly accepting VA money through these programs and not certifying military divers with the appropriate certifications and its so blatantly obvious it’s almost cringe worthy.
Consequences of PADI failure
I can’t work in the field I worked in for 10 years because of these bogus standards. I have lost a business and a business partner to this. I can’t pay my auto insurance. I have $40K in debt because I had to use credit cards to keep my head above water. My credit is ruined. I have had no social life because of a lack of funds. I’m about to lose my place. The level of stress and anxiety I have had to deal with has been overwhelming. The dismissive attitude of PADI professionals is unacceptable. I’m simply asking to make this right. I’m not unrealistic in my expectations for them to close the loop holes and credential me to the standards in which I was trained.
Not matching military training with jobs
This is an unfortunate situation that fortunately has a simple solution. It’s also unfortunate that this problem is just a scratch on the surface of a larger problem that is going on across the Nation. Multiple professors have acknowledged that this is going on and what a sad situation it is. The admission departments at Universities across the country view Service Members as a “No brainer for acceptance because of the guaranteed VA funding.”
All of the Universities that accept (TA or GI Bill) funding are required to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) stating that they are knowingly credentialing Veterans using these programs to match their jobs and training. They are not doing that.
They are raking in the cash and making Veterans jump through fire to get accreditation that the Service Member should already have upon completion of their time in service. I can tell you first hand that both sides of the house (VA and University system) have done a poor job at best of setting up military members for success post military.
I did not serve 10 years to come out and deal with this. We are highly trained individuals and it is the civilian world that needs to be put on notice. This will not be tolerated any longer. At a minimum, service members should be transitioning out of the military with an Associate Degree. Why hasn’t this been done?
It hasn’t been done because Veterans are a gold mine to the system. The more classes they can make us take, the more money they can line their pockets with, the fatter their pockets become. It’s time to fix this problem.
If you want to actually do something to fix the suicide rate and issues with PTSD lets start with letting service members know the time they sacrificed for this Country was more than just for nothing. Start by reviewing the credentialing process and making the skills we obtained in service equate to the civilian world.
That’s not an unrealistic expectation. It’s time to expose the fraudulent system that is flourishing on the backs of ALL Service Members.