Way up there among the most left-wing of institutions, Columbia University, one in the same that fought to evict the ROTC, seems to be changing perceptions by welcoming veterans. The following from an article in the current Columbia Magazine, summer 2010, p. 20-25. 1. ROTC was dissolved at Columbia in the Sixties. Today many students still partake in the Reserve Officers Training Corps through U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force programs offered at Fordham University and Manhattan College respectively. 2. John McClelland, 26, served five years as a Special Operations Army Ranger combat medic, now majors in history and linguistics. He takes his ROTC at Fordham University. 3. At Columbia, he says, "I am able to engage with people whose ideas I disagree with." But some aspects of his behavior are shaped by the Army. He is always 15 minutes early. He sits front and center, not far from the professor. If the board is full, he'll erase it. If there's trash on the desk he'll throw it away. The Army, he says, taught him to think about his team, in this case, his classmates. 4. The veteran population explosion began in the fall of 2009, after a new GI Bill went into effect. In '08-'09, there were 169 veterans at Columbia; a year later, 230. This fall, the number is expected to be 300. 5. The post 9-11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act, the "new GI Bill," pays tuition up to $12,267 (in NY) and the Yellow Ribbon Program can pay the balance of tuition. 6. Dean of Enrollment Curtis Rodgers: "If you're looking for the best and brightest nontraditional students, the military, and especially within the Special Forces, is a good place to look." 7. Unlike their predecessors, this new wave of returning service members are being recruited by administrators and welcomed by their peers, marking a profound shift in society's attitude toward veterans. I applaud Columbia and look forward to even more doors to open to our vets. My own thoughts flow from this GI Bill, to public school vouchers...but that's another thread.