RICHMOND, Ky. – Congressman Andy Barr, EKU Interim President David McFaddin and others today touted the success of Congressman Barr’s legislation to increase veteran access to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) scholarships.

H.R 2196 was introduced by Congressman Barr in April of last year, passed unanimously by the House of Representatives and Senate, then signed into law by President Donald Trump in July. It was Congressman Barr’s first bill as a member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

“Providing our veterans with an opportunity to invest in an education is just one way we can help those who have served our country transition back to civilian life,” said Congressman Barr. “I’m grateful to EKU for their nationally recognized dedication to student veterans, and I’m pleased to see the impact this legislation is having on the lives of students participating in this scholarship program.”

The bill amends the credit hour requirement of the Edith Nourse Rogers STEM Scholarship program in the Forever GI Bill, making the scholarship more accessible to veterans across the country. This legislation works to ensure that this scholarship program can be used in the way Congress intended and—more importantly—ensures that student veterans in these important degree programs receive the support they need to pursue their dreams.

“We take great pride in EKU’s national recognition as a ‘Best for Vets’ university, but beyond that we are proud of each of our student veterans who come to us seeking an opportunity to continue their education” said EKU Interim President Dr. David McFaddin. “These brave men and women have served our country and we are honored to serve them with the support and resources needed to advance their careers and find new ways to contribute to their local communities.”

EKU Director of the Office of Military & Veterans Affairs Barbara Kent has seen firsthand the impact this program has had on veteran students.

“It goes without saying that the impact of this scholarship on our individual veteran students and their families is immeasurable,” said Kent. “Equally important is its impact beyond the individual student and to society at large because recipients -- in degrees such as Occupational Safety, Nursing, Emergency Medical Care, Fire and Safety Engineering, Environmental Health Sciences, just to name a few -- are able to achieve their educational goals to go on and serve other veterans as well as their communities.”

In the Fall of 2019, EKU had approximately 107 veteran students using VA benefits who were enrolled in the 32 undergraduate STEM scholarship approved degree programs. James Birdsong is one of five veteran students at EKU who have received the scholarship.

“The Edith Nourse Rogers STEM scholarship allows me to continue to finish what I started so that I can be competitive in the job market. EKU has been extremely helpful in the processing of these benefits,” said Birdsong. “Their advisors reached out to me to ensure I knew it was available and took care of everything once it was approved. The process didn’t take long, and I am back in school and school and projected to graduate in December. If I didn’t have the scholarship, I probably wouldn’t have finished. Thank you to all who made this happen and to Congressman Barr for continuing to look at ways to help veterans.”