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Encouraging Membership In The Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges Consortium

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Ms. HIRONO. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and agree to the resolution (H. Res. 491) encouraging each institution of higher education in the country to seek membership in the Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges (SOC) Consortium.

The Clerk read the title of the resolution.

The text of the resolution is as follows:

H. Res. 491

Whereas in order to enhance their military effectiveness and to achieve their educational, vocational, and career goals, servicemembers should share in the same postsecondary educational opportunities that are available to other citizens;

Whereas to enhance access to undergraduate educational opportunities for servicemembers, institutions should maintain a necessary flexibility of programs and procedures, particularly in admissions, credit transfer, and recognition of other applicable learning, including that gained in the military, in scheduling and format of courses, and in academic residency requirements to offset servicemembers' mobility, isolation from campuses, and part-time student status;

Whereas the Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges (SOC) Consortium, which was created in 1972 to provide educational opportunities to servicemembers who had trouble completing college degrees because of their frequent relocations, today includes more than 1,800 colleges and universities among its members;

Whereas the SOC Consortium is a vehicle to help coordinate voluntary postsecondary educational opportunities for servicemembers by advocating for the flexibility needed to improve access to and availability of educational programs for servicemembers, helping the military and higher education communities understand and respond to each other's resources, limits, and requirements for meeting the education and training needs of servicemembers, and strengthening the working relationships among military and higher education representatives;

Whereas each year, hundreds of thousands of servicemembers and their family members enroll in associate, bachelor, and graduate level degree programs offered by SOC Consortium members on school campuses, military installations, and armories within the United States and overseas;

Whereas SOC Consortium member institutions provide flexibility to servicemembers, their families, and veterans seeking college degrees and, in turn, these institutions benefit from the enrollment of mature, highly motivated adult students who are making use of tuition assistance or Montgomery GI Bill benefits to pay their education costs; and

Whereas in gratitude and respect for their service to the United States, all institutions of higher education in the country should strive to provide our servicemembers with the tools and opportunities they need to achieve their educational, vocational, and career goals: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives--

(1) encourages each institution of higher education in the country to seek membership in the Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges (SOC) Consortium; and

(2) recognizes the institutions of higher education that are currently members of the SOC Consortium.

The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Snyder). Pursuant to the rule, the gentlewoman from Hawaii (Ms. Hirono) and the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Thompson) each will control 20 minutes.

The Chair recognizes the gentlewoman from Hawaii.


Ms. HIRONO. Mr. Speaker, I request 5 legislative days during which Members may revise and extend their remarks and insert extraneous material on H. Res. 491 into the Record.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the gentlewoman from Hawaii?

There was no objection.

Ms. HIRONO. I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of House Resolution 491, which encourages each institution of higher education in the country to seek membership in the Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges Consortium, SOC.

Whether at home or abroad, military servicemembers deserve our Nation's utmost respect and support. It is, therefore, important that our Nation's institutions of higher education respect the commitment that military servicemembers make in protecting the freedoms we often take for granted.

The SOC recognizes the sacrifices that many of these servicemembers make, and it provides servicemembers with the opportunities for continued learning. The SOC appreciates the positive attributes military servicemembers bring as active participants in a diverse college environment.

The SOC works toward improving the relationship between the military and institutions of higher education. Increased understanding provides the flexibility necessary for servicemembers to meet the educational requirements that schools demand. The SOC manages to balance the development of programs and procedures that meet the unique needs of servicemembers while protecting and assuring the quality of educational programs. The SOC includes over 1,800 colleges and universities. Members of this consortium should be commended.

However, in order to create additional opportunities for deserving servicemembers, we need to encourage other higher education institutions to join the SOC. The SOC enables Americans to express our gratitude to servicemembers and to ensure that they have access to the same educational opportunities that are available to other citizens.

The SOC provides a wealth of pathways to a quality education while being sensitive to the needs of those who have served our country or of those who are currently on active duty. Under this program, servicemembers can easily transfer credits earned while working toward a degree; they can attend a myriad of campuses and can opt for distance learning in certain instances.

It is imperative that servicemembers are able to obtain an excellent education, not only because it makes our troops stronger, but because it serves as a necessary way to express gratitude for all of the ways that our servicemembers sacrifice to protect our country.

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank Representative Adler for bringing this resolution forward.

I urge my colleagues to support this resolution.

I reserve the balance of my time.


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