Washington, D.C. - This week, legislation introduced by U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) to standardize educational transcripts so that veterans who are trying to go back to college can seamlessly transfer credits they earned during military training was adopted as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), currently pending before the Senate.  

“Our veterans have sacrificed much to defend our freedoms; the least we can do is help to make sure that their transition into civilian life is as painless as possible,” Portman said.  “This amendment seeks to remove barriers to continuing education by ensuring that they receive appropriate academic credits for their honorable training. Even more, by easing their entrance into school, the bill will prepare veterans to apply and transfer the valuable skills they acquired during their service into the skills they need to acquire a job in the civilian workforce.”

“A transcript format common to all branches of service will allow veterans to benefit from a standardized process and be able to focus on their next mission of becoming a student rather than facing barriers to a smooth transition,”  according to Eric Patterson, LTC(R) US Army, Director of Veterans Affairs at John Carroll University.  “Senator Portman's efforts on behalf of student veterans are greatly appreciated.”

Each servicemember is issued a transcript upon leaving active duty, and the transcript equates military training and instruction to academic credits.  Colleges and universities use these transcripts to award transfer credit to veteran students.  Unfortunately, there is a significant difference in the types of transcripts issued by each of the services, so different veterans could receive different academic credits or no credits for the same military training at the same school or between schools.  

Some simple changes in the Department of Defense (DoD) can alleviate a lot of these problems, and the amendment will require a report from the Secretary of Defense on the initiatives of DoD to standardize educational transcripts for separating servicemembers.  This will take pressure off schools and veterans to work through the differences in transcripts and free up resources to focus on teaching these veterans and ensuring they get credit for their military training as they prepare for new roles in the civilian workforce.