Secretary of Veterans Affairs addresses UNL

By: Lauren Fabrizi

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln received a visit from the Secretary of Veterans Affairs Thursday afternoon. VA Secretary Eric Shinseki addressed the chancellor and other UNL leaders about a federal bill that helps student veterans financially.

In 2009, the federal government passed the Post-9/11 GI Bill that helps pay tuition and other fees for veterans who wish to attend college. Over the last four years, the bill has helped nearly one million students across the U.S. This year was particularly significant because the class of 2013 was the first class to graduate under the bill.

“We're very proud of them,” Shinseki said. “Young men and women who have accomplished so much in their military lives and now are here looking for an opportunity to make similar contributions.”

“I think it's an extraordinary program,” Chancellor Harvey Perlman added. “One that wasn't available to vets in Vietnam and some of those wars, so I think it's important that the country support these men and women.”

In his address Thursday, Shinseki praised the student vets by saying they possess character, discipline and exceptional leadership skills. He even had a message for their future employers.

“Hire a veteran,” Shinseki said. “I can't be more direct. Hire a veteran, they'll be amongst your very best employees.”

Before the address, Shinseki met with the chancellor and a number of student vets. Perlman said he appreciates the secretary's devotion.

“It's good to get his perspective from the department about how we can be more supportive,” Perlman said. “So we very much appreciated him being here.”

This year, the Post-9/11 GI Bill helped over 500 students and their dependents at UNL. Perlman said he hopes that number will continue to grow in the coming school years.