“I think the Yellow Ribbon Program
is a wonderful way to say thank you to our Veterans for the sacrifices they have made,” says Betty Ann Mortenson, who works with participants in the program as part of her duties in the registrar’s office on Widener Law’s Harrisburg campus.
Established by the Post-911 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008, the Yellow Ribbon Program allows institutions of higher learning in the United States to voluntarily enter into an agreement with the Department of Veterans Affairs to fund tuition and fee expenses that exceed the highest public in-state undergraduate tuition and fee rate in their state. Institutions contribute a specified dollar amount of those expenses, and the VA will match the contribution up to 50% of the difference.
Widener Law began participation in the program for the 2009-2010 academic year, funding up to five J.D. students on each campus at that time, and the school has continued to participate each year since. Veterans who have participated in the program have had high praise for the Post 9/11 GI Bill in general and the Yellow Ribbon Program in particular.
Former Marine Corps Captain Stephen A. Starr
, a student on Widener Law’s Harrisburg campus who participates in the program, says, “I think the Post 9/11 GI Bill is a great thing because service members sacrifice more than you know for the country and giving back to those service members is always greatly appreciated by them. I particularly like the Yellow Ribbon Program. It’s an added ‘thank you’ that is also greatly appreciated.”
Delaware student and Yellow Ribbon Program participant W. Kennedy Comer
, a former sensor operator for the remotely piloted MQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicle with the Air Force, offers general praise of the way that the Post 9/11 GI Bill has streamlined the benefits process, saying, “The Post 9/11 G.I. Bill is outstanding. I used and exhausted the Montgomery G.I. Bill for my undergraduate degree and I had a lot of personal gripes about the process to get the benefits and the benefits themselves. The Post 9/11 G.I. Bill has not only opened up a new pool of funds for me to use for school, but it has also addressed the procedural pains with the Montgomery G.I. Bill.”
Mortensen is also quick to point out the benefits of the program to the veterans who participate, saying, “The Veterans themselves are very appreciative for the extra help. It gives them the freedom to concentrate on their studies and prepare for their future work. Some have families, which puts even more of a financial burden on them, and the Yellow Ribbon program again helps in this area of stress.”
The program also brings great benefits to the Widener Law Community, with veterans bringing a different perspective and experiences to the school. “It is an honor to have Veterans attend Widener University School of Law,” says Mortenson, describing them as “an asset to the community” and adding, “I am sure they will always be grateful and so will Widener!”