The state of Oklahoma recently passed a law which will allow state colleges to more easily provide academic credit to military veterans who have received an Honorable Discharge within the last three years. Oklahoma state officials passed Senate Bill 1863, The Post-Military Service Occupation, Education and Credentialing Act, sponsored by Sen. Steve Russell, R-Oklahoma City, a retired Army Lieutenant Colonel, and Rep. Ann Coody, R-Lawton.
Slated to go into affect on November 1, 2012, this bill gives colleges the ability to provide academic credit for military service for those who separated within the last three years. The credit is good for applicable education, training, and experience received through military duty, as long a it pertains to the veteran’s area of study.
The skills earned by military veterans can also be applied by state authorities and governing boards toward professional licenses and certifications when the veteran’s skills are applicable toward the license or certificate. This should expedite the process toward professional licensing and certification for many Oklahoma veterans.
This law also provides assistance to spouses of active duty servicemembers by requiring agencies, boards, and commissions to develop procedures to decrease the time it takes for military spouse applicants to receive professional licenses and certifications.
This bill will help both returning veterans, and spouses of active duty military members find work. Oklahoma’s Secretary of Veterans Affairs Rita Aragon, of Edmond, praised the bill as a way to help support veterans returning from active duty overseas.
“Our military service men and women deserve our support in honor of their service to our nation,” Aragon said. “This program will allow veterans to transform their unique military skills and training into academic credit and real-world certification.”
Thoughts on this new bill: Many colleges and universities offer some academic credits for military service, but many of them limit it to an elective credit for PT (physical training), or another small elective credit. This new bill in Oklahoma, on the other hand, gives academic credit which will help veterans get closer to their degree of choice, provided their military experience is in their academic field.
This is a great opportunity for veterans to gain academic credits and reduce the amount of time it takes to obtain an Associate’s Degree, Bachelor’s Degree, or professional certification. The new GI Bill is a great benefit, and even though it covers virtually all in-state educational expenses, it doesn’t do anything to reduce the amount of time it takes to get the required degree and enter the job force.
Note: The University of Oklahoma (OU) already provides a variety of veterans academic credit for their military service, including vets who served decades ago. You can find a list of the credits they offer for military personnel and veterans.