With all the news about dysfunctional government, it was nice to read in a recent article in The Gazette that we have done a good job supporting our troops stationed here in Colorado.
The article ("Guard's ranks packed", Feb. 5) reports that Major General Michael Loh, the head of the Colorado National Guard, "credited moves by the Colorado General Assembly to improve job prospects for military spouses and education benefits, which help young troops counter skyrocketing college costs."
As chairman of the Education Committee for the last four years and as a member of the state, veterans, and military affairs committee, it has been my privilege to focus on the intersection of veterans and education policy. We have indeed accomplished a great deal.
Some of the highlights of the past three years include ensuring we allow our veterans to use tuition assistance for certificate programs in addition to four-year degrees and establishing a Colorado Veterans service-to-career pilot program administered by local nonprofit groups.
Veterans won big last year with legislation I ran that required Colorado universities to give college credit to veterans for appropriate military training. This bi-partisan bill will force down the cost of education without spending a penny of taxpayer money.
Last year, under the leadership of Steve and Joyce Schuck, General Ruben Cubero, Colonel Reggie Ash, and Amos Velasquez we opened Colorado's first ever military-style public charter school. The focus on character and high-quality education in an environment many families want will further boost our supply of students who share the vision of service to our country.
This year, we have more work to do. Senator Bob Gardner and I are protecting deployed military and other homeowners from squatters.
This will give further support to our veterans knowing we always have their backs while they are deployed. This bill now just has to pass the House after passing the Senate last week.
High schools have been penalized for too long because we gave more credence to graduates going to get four-year degrees than to those who answered the call to serve by enlisting in the military.
Not anymore. I introduced legislation this year to direct the Colorado Department of Education to treat college attendees and enlisted military equally in school ratings.
The key to our success has been partnerships with our nonprofit community and with military leadership.
Institutions like Mount Carmel Center for Excellence, Homefront Cares, and Peak Military Care Network are at the frontlines of caring for our troops by providing the advice, counseling, and structure for administering programs.
Much credit goes to our Adjutant General Loh, the commander of the Colorado Guard. When he came before my committee last year for confirmation, I delivered a letter to him signed by all the State Senators asking him to help us prioritize Colorado veterans through a strong mutual commitment to good public policy.
This commitment is clearly paying off.
When we go to sleep tonight with no fear of attack, it is because of Colorado soldiers and veterans.
Fortunately, our state government is succeeding in ensuring they have every tool necessary to succeed.
Owen Hill is the current State Senator for Senate District 10 in El Paso County, and is running for Colorado's 5th U.S. Congressional District.