This past week I was reminded of the time I spent in Saudi Arabia with the 1st Marine Division preparing for our mission to evict the Iraqi Army from Kuwait. The first Persian Gulf War was America’s first large-scale deployment of combat forces overseas since the Vietnam War. This was 1990. The United States Military had spent the better part of the last decade having undergone an unprecedented build-up and modernization of its forces. The M1 Abrams tank, the F-117 Stealth Fighter and other new systems were technological marvels, but they were untested in battle and to be sure, they had their critics. The media was quick to point out that American forces were inexperienced, untested and perhaps might be in for a long, bloody fight with the battle-hardened Iraqi Army that had spent the prior eight years slugging it out with Iran. Before too long the American public was being treated to a daily serving of doom and gloom of what would likely happen should Coalition forces go to war with Iraq; tens-of-thousands of casualties in a long, protracted war. Abrams tanks would be breaking down in the desert heat, soldiers and Marines would be no match for the vaunted Republican Guard divisions and blah, blah, blah. History tells a very different story as we all know.
In fact, Operation Desert Storm is regarded as one of the most successful military campaigns in history. I remember one occasion when a fellow Marine (and friend) was being interviewed by a well-known reporter from a New York newspaper. This Marine was from New York, so the reporter was particularly interested in his perspective on the events that were unfolding. We did not know it at the time, but this journalist had an agenda. They spoke for 20 minutes or so, during which time my friend conveyed the highest level of professionalism and confidence in himself and the mission on which we were about to embark. Several weeks later my friend and I received a copy of the interview. We were stunned. The piece read like a cheap novel. This “journalist” misquoted, ad-libbed, or simply omitted much of what was stated by my friend.
This brings me to my main point. I am seeing some of the same kinds of irresponsible reporting going on today with regard to lenders and financial aid offices. The improprieties we have all heard about are in no way representative of what goes on in our world every day. The vast majority of folks working for student lenders or staffing financial aid offices are honest professionals. The financial aid officers that I have had the opportunity to meet with over the years are passionate in their mission to help students to afford higher education. Nelnet, the company I work for, awards hundreds-of-thousands of dollars in scholarships every year all over the United States. Has the media reported any of this? If they have, I haven’t seen or heard about it. We receive messages of thanks every single day from customers thanking us for the services we provide. Yes, Nelnet is a student lender, an excellent company, and I am extremely proud to be part of the organization. It would do the public well for the media to temper their excessive use of hyperbole and sensationalism, by taking the time to fact-find and gather unbiased information that tells the full story. To do anything less is irresponsible at best.[tags]financial aid, higher education, Nelnet[/tags]