President Barack Obama on Friday signed an order to help protect U.S. troops and military veterans from being defrauded or misled by colleges that target their federal education benefits.
The president visited Fort Stewart, an Army base in the Southern state of Georgia, to sign an executive order banning certain college recruiting practices.
Obama discussed the growing number of complaints about the way some for-profit colleges market their services to military families eligible for federal education aid. He gave the example of a college recruiter who went to a Marine barracks and enrolled troops with brain injuries.
“These Marines had injuries so severe, some of them could not recall the courses the recruiter had signed them up for. That is appalling. That is disgraceful. It should never happen in America,” said the president.
The president said his order will limit recruiters’ access to military facilities and require schools to provide more information to troops and veterans before enrolling them.
“The executive order I am about to sign will make life a whole lot more secure for you and your families and our veterans, and a whole lot tougher for those who try to prey on you,” said Obama.
Many profit-making colleges and technical schools market heavily to military families for their education loan money provided by the U.S. government, under a program called the “GI Bill.” The executive order also limits the use of the term “GI Bill” on Internet websites.
The issue combines two areas of particular interest to the Obama administration - education and the welfare of U.S. troops and their families.
First lady Michelle Obama has spent much of her time in the White House working to help military families. She accompanied the president to Fort Stewart and also spoke to the soldiers.
“I want you all to know that America does have your backs [is looking out for you]. And we are just getting started. We are going to keep at this. We are going to keep working every day to serve all of you as well as you have served this country,” she said.
Although many of the president’s recent trips have been to states that analysts say are likely to play a key role in deciding this year’s presidential election, there is no apparent political value in Obama's visit to Georgia. Republican candidate John McCain won the state in 2008, and Georgia voters are widely expected to support the Republican nominee this year, as well.