Touching Base--Volume 3 Issue 1

December 2009 — Volume 3 Issue 1
“…I … say to all who serve and their families, thank you. As many privileges I get as the President of the United States I have no greater honor than serving as your commander in chief. ”
– President Barack Obama at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, Nov. 12, 2009


Secretary of Education and Retired Military Leaders Highlight Connection Between Education and National Defense

At the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on November 5, 2009, Education Secretary Arne Duncan with retired generals and admirals called for greater investment in high-quality early learning programs to ensure that more young people graduate, obey the law, and have career options which may include military service. The retired military leaders were General Wesley K. Clark, U.S. Army, Former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO; Major General James A. Kelley, U.S. Army Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense; Brigadier General John W. Douglass, U.S. Air Force; Former Assistant Secretary of the Navy; Rear Admiral James Barnett U.S. Navy, Chief, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, Federal Communications Commission; Major General James W. Comstock, U.S. Army, Former Reserve Component Advisor, U.S. Central Command; and Former Under Secretary of the Army, Joe Reeder. The military leaders shared statistical data that showed the direct correlation between early learning opportunities and enlistment eligibility, a key to dropout prevention. According to the report, the most proven approach to helping students graduate begins with high quality early education opportunities, especially for at-risk children. Citing the report, Secretary Duncan urged the Senate to pass the Early Learning Challenge Fund bill.

Secretary Duncan Continues Listening and Learning Tours

The week of November 18th Secretary Duncan as part of the "Listening and Learning Tour" was joined by Congressman Bobby Scott, Brigadier General Brian Layer, and Newport News Public Schools Superintendent Ashby Kilgore at the An Achievable Dream network of schools in Newport News, Virginia. For more information, go to

Also, as part of the information-gathering effort for ED, which is preparing to reform the No Child Left Behind Act, Peter Cunningham, Assistant Secretary of Communications and Outreach, conducted Listening and Learning sessions in Hawaii and Guam December 7th-11th. The Assistant Secretary listed three specific challenges seen while touring local schools: infrastructure, diversity and a lack of technology. During the fact-finding tour of school systems throughout the Pacific, Mr. Cunningham visited Commander William C. McCool Elementary/Middle School, Naval Base Guam, a Department of Defense Education Activity school.

ED and DoD

ED Staff Present at National Academic Advising Association

At the National Academic Advising Association on September 30, 2009, in San Antonio, Texas, staff from ED's Office of Civil Rights (OCR) discussed Section 504/Title II and Wounded Warriors (veterans) transitioning to postsecondary education. More than 200 academic advisors, guidance counselors and veterans' counselors attended.

Advisory Council on Dependents' Education Meet in Arlington

The Advisory Council on Dependents' Education (ACDE) held its semi-annual meeting on October 14, 2009. The ACDE is a 16-member team with representatives from the U. S. Department of Education and the Department of Defense. The purpose of the meeting was to make recommendations to the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) Director concerning general policies for the operation of the Department of Defense Schools (DoDDS). ACDE also provided the Director with information about effective educational programs and practices that should be considered by DoDDS. The newest member of the Council from ED is Dr. Thelma Melendez, Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education. To learn more about the Advisory Council on Dependents' Education go to

Educational Challenges of the Military

The ED Office of Parental Options and Information held a Project Director's Conference on October 26, 2009, in Washington, D.C. The purpose of the conference was to further promote and capitalize on activities that support parent options in education including charter schools, public school choice, high-quality supplemental education services and community organizations that effectively inform parents of their options. The conference included sessions that focused on the unique challenges of military-connected students and the current support provided by local, state and federal governments and organizations. The session, entitled Educational Support for Children and Youth of Military Families offered successful options and best practices that address student mobility, frequent deployments, trauma and loss, and change within the military. The presenters were Dr. Charles Boyer, Special Advisor for Military Families in the Office Innovational and Improvement, and Ms. Terri Dietrich, Military Liaison, Educational Partnership of the DoD Education Activity.

ED Staff Attends Arrival Ceremony for the Secretary of the Army

ED staff attended a Full Honor Arrival Ceremony at Fort Myer, Virginia, on November 2, 2009, for the Honorable John M. McHugh, the recently confirmed Secretary of the Army. The keynote speakers, Secretary of Defense Dr. Robert M. Gates and General George W. Casey, Army Chief of Staff, included in their remarks commitments to continue to enhance the quality of life for soldiers and their families.

ED Staff Attend DoD Conference

A representative of the Department's Federal Real Property Assistance (FRPA) Program, which conveys surplus federal real property to eligible educational organizations, attended the Defense Community Conference Partnering for Success held November 2-5, 2009 in Orlando, Florida. This conference was organized by the Department of Defense Office of Economic Adjustment (OEA) and is held periodically to provide technical assistance and networking opportunities to the military, Local Redevelopment Authorities, elected officials, the business community and federal agencies working collaboratively on the closure and realignment of military installations resulting from Base Realignment and Closure Act (BRAC) recommendations. Information was presented in four sessions by FRPA staff about the Department's role in conveying former military properties to educational organizations as Public Benefit Conveyances including clarifying some misunderstandings about eligibility, timing and federal deed restrictions.

The Military Child Education Coalition Officials Brief ED Senior Leader

On November 6, 2009, Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC) representatives met with Scott Pearson, Associate Assistant Deputy Secretary of Education in the ED Office of Innovation and Improvement, in Washington, DC, to discuss the education of children and youth of military families. The representatives from MCEC were Executive Director Dr. Mary Keller, Board Member Valerie Baldwin, and Vice President for Strategic Communication and Development Edwin Veiga. MCEC is a non-profit, world-wide organization focused on ensuring quality educational opportunities for all children of military families affected by mobility, family separation, and transition. Further information about MCEC can be viewed at

Survivor Corps Visits the U.S. Department of Education

On November 10, 2009, representatives of Survivor Corps (SC) visited the U.S. Department of Education (ED) to brief Scott Pearson, Associate Assistant Deputy Secretary for the ED Office of Innovation and Improvement, on the Campaign for Healthy Homecoming (CHH), a response to the challenges associated with service members returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan. SC Executive Director Jerry White and SC Coordinator of CHH Scott Quilty emphasized the need for a national approach to address these challenges. The Campaign includes leading nonprofit and veteran service organizations, governmental departments and agencies, corporations, academic institutions, veterans and family members divided into seven working groups: education, employment, housing, healthcare, peer support, resilient families, and engaged communities.

Paralyzed Veterans of America Hosts Veterans Day Reception

ED staff attended the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) Annual National Veterans Day Reception in Washington, D. C. on November 11, 2009. The reception was held to express appreciation for all generations of Americans who have served in the armed forces. PVA works to maximize the quality of life for its members, and all people with spinal cord injury and disability (SCI/D), by advocating for health care, sports programs, and disability rights SCI/D research and education, veterans' benefits and rights, accessibility and the removal of architectural barriers. PVA is the only Congressionally chartered veterans organization dedicated solely to serving the needs of SCI/D veterans. Information about PVA can be obtained from their website:

Teens Share at Military Families and Kids Summit

On November 13, 2009, the Washington State Military Families and Kids Summit held its third annual gathering in Tacoma, WA. The summit focused on issues affecting spouses and children of service members. The topics spanned from health care to strains on marriage to help for kids transferring between school districts. The theme, "supporting a service member includes providing help to his or her family," was echoed throughout the summit. Teens of service members who shared during this summit were striving to help build an understanding between military families and others who might not be as knowledgeable about life amid frequent moves, new schools and deployments. The teens shared not only the benefits, but the problems, challenges and frustrations they face as military dependents. ED Regional Office staff member, Linda Pauley, helped to plan and provided information for the event.

The DoDEA Chat Room Welcomes FSA staff

On October 5, 2009, and October 21, 2009, staff from the Office of Federal Student Aid, Stephanie Gross and Holly Anderson, were featured guests on The Chat Room, a Department of Defense Education Activity television program hosted by Mr. Frank O'Gara. Ms. Gross walked the viewers through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) process and shared the different resources available to parents and students as they look at ways to pay for college. Ms. Anderson guided students and parents through the website.

Legislation: House and Senate Bills Introduced

  • H.R. 3813 (Sestak, D-PA):

    to amend Title 38 (Veterans' Benefits), US Code, to provide for the approval of certain programs of education for purposes of the Post-9/11 Educational Assistance Program (Veterans' Affairs).
  • S. 1775 (Bayh, D-IN):

    to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to provide that interest shall not accrue on Federal Direct Loans for members of the Armed Forces on active duty regardless of the date of disbursement (Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions);
  • S. 1784 (Ensign, R-NV):

    to amend Title 38 (Veterans' Benefits), US Code, to ensure that State approving agencies provide timely responses to applications for approval of courses of education and provide justifications for disapproval of courses, and to provide for the review of the disapproval of courses by State approving agencies (Veterans' Affairs).
  • S. 1785 (Ensign, R-NV):

    to amend Title 38 (Veterans' Benefits), US Code, to require State approving agencies to approve courses of education that have been accredited and approved by a nationally recognized accrediting agency or association (Veterans' Affairs).
  • H.R. 3577 (Rodriguez, D-Texas):

    to amend Title 38, US Code, to provide authority for certain members of the Armed Forces who have served 20 years on active duty to transfer entitlement to Post-9/11 Educational Assistance to their dependents (Veterans' Affairs).
  • S. 1668 (Bennet, D-Colorado):

    to amend Title 38, US Code, to provide for the inclusion of certain active-duty service in the reserve components as qualifying service for purposes of Post-9/11 Educational Assistance Program (Veterans' Affairs).

Interagency Initiatives

ED Employee Participates in Campaign for Healthy Homecoming

The Department of Education partners with the Department of Defense and other agencies on specific initiatives.

  • Missing and Exploited Children Federal Working Group:

    coordination and information sharing of federal efforts related to missing children
  • Shared Youth Vision Federal Partnership:

    to promote the alignment of federal programming to improve transitions to adulthood for at-risk youth.
  • Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs/

    to support development and implementation of a website designed to support community-and/or school-based efforts to address substance abuse, juvenile delinquency, and youth violence.
  • BRAC 2005:

    disposal of surplus federal real property as a result of the BRAC 2005 recommendations
  • Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949, as amended:

    disposal of surplus federal real property
  • Children of U.S. Soldiers who died from military service performed in Iraq or Afghanistan:

    to establish an automated match process between DoD and ED to determine students whose parents or guardian died as a result of military service in Iraq or Afghanistan after September 11, 2001.
  • Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) Technical Assistance:

    Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE) High School Group staff are providing support for an invitational technical assistance meeting for Chief State School Officers that will provide information on the Junior ROTC program and how it might be used as part of a larger strategy to turnaround low-performing schools. The National Association of State School Boards also is participating in the meeting and providing technical assistance to participants
  • ED-DoD MOU Implementation:

    collaboration to address the quality of education and unique challenges faced by children of military families

Support for College

Maximum Federal Pell Grant for Children of Service Members

On October 29th, 2009, ED released final regulations implementing provisions in the Higher Education Act that entitle a student whose parent or guardian died as a result of performing military service in Iraq or Afghanistan after September 11, 2001, to receive federal funding to help pay the costs of attending a postsecondary institution. Students who are found eligible for federal financial assistance through filing a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) will be automatically eligible for a maximum Federal Pell Grant. Students who do not have any demonstrated need will be awarded a grant equal to the maximum Pell Grant under the newly created Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants Program. In order to be eligible for this benefit, a student must have been under the age of 24 or enrolled in an institution of higher education at the time of his or her parent or guardian's death. The Secretary of Education, Secretary of Defense, and Secretary of Veteran's Affairs will be coordinating information to help identify students who may be eligible for funding under these provisions. For more information, contact Jackie Butler at or 202-502-7890.

Readmission to Postsecondary Institutions for Returning Service Members

On October 29th, 2009, ED released final regulations implementing provisions in the Higher Education Act that are designed to encourage and enable returning service members to reenroll in postsecondary education and complete their programs of study with as little interruption as possible. Under these regulations, an institution may not deny readmission to a service member, and must promptly readmit the student with the same academic status he or she held before leaving to perform service in the Armed Forces, including charging the same tuition and fees in the first year that the student would have been or was charged in the academic year in which they left for service. The regulations clarify what is meant by "promptly readmit" and "same academic status," specify readmissions procedures that students and institutions must follow, and outline the documentation required to establish eligibility. Additional questions about these provisions may be directed to Wendy Macias, at or 202-502-7526.

The Federal Perkins Loan Program

The Federal Perkins Loan Program provides low-interest loans to help needy students finance the costs of postsecondary education. Students can receive Perkins loans at any one of approximately 1,800 participating postsecondary institutions. Financial aid administrators at participating institutions have substantial flexibility in determining the amount of Perkins loans to award to students who are enrolled or accepted for enrollment. Borrowers who undertake certain public, military, or teaching service employment are eligible to have all or part of their loans canceled. In general, schools are reimbursed for 100 percent of the principal amount of the loan canceled, and the reimbursement must be reinvested in the school's revolving loan fund. These institutional reimbursements for loan cancellations are an entitlement. More information can be found at:

Federal Student Loan Cancellation and Discharge

All loans received under programs authorized by Title IV of the Higher Education Act can be canceled for several different circumstances including military service. Recipients of a National Defense Student Loan may receive partial cancellation of their loan for their service in the United States Armed Forces if the loan was disbursed after April 13, 1970, and full-time active service began after June 30, 1970. Recipients of a National Direct Student Loan and Perkins Loan may receive partial cancellation of their loan for their service in the United States Armed Forces if his/her military service was for a full year in a hostile area. If anyone knows of someone who may qualify for cancellation of their loan(s) due to military service as described above, have them send a copy of their DD214 (discharge form) and a letter of explanation to the agency servicing the loan. Additional information can be found at

Stress of War Impacts Children

The years-long U.S. commitment in Iraq and Afghanistan is taking a significant toll on the children of service members, who are 2½ times more likely to develop psychological problems than American children in general, new research indicates. The study, published in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, found that deployment of a parent was correlated to high stress levels in the parent who remains at home, which it said was linked to greater psychological impact on children. The children of service members deployed in wartime were commonly racked with worry over the safety of both parents and were under intense strain from the upheaval of changing schools and their relationships with service providers. For more information go to

Contacts:Carrie Jasper, Writer and Editor; Charles Boyer, Special Advisor for Military Families; Cynthia Hearn Dorfman, Advisor; Lynda Edwards, Jessica Finkel, Linda Pauley, Mary Hughes, Barbara Sawyer, Patricia Landis, Contributors
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Note: This document contains information about and from public and private entities and organizations for the reader's information. Inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by theU.S. Department of Education of any entity or organization or the products or services offered or views expressed. This publication also contains hyperlinks and URLs created and maintained by outside organizations. They are provided for the reader's convenience; however, the Department is not responsible for the accuracy of this information.

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Last Modified: 05/01/2012