Dear Military Spouses,
When I served in the military, the Navy’s opinion of spouses was, “If we wanted you to have a spouse, we would have issued you one.” Spouses were viewed as impediments to operational flexibility and readiness. I saw my own spouse struggle to find a meaningful job in her field. I saw her work through all of the complexity of constant moves. I witnessed her “taxation” without any “representation.”
I thought there was a better way for her and other spouses to be a part of the military family. When Victory Media acquired Military Spouse magazine from the military spouse who created it, I knew we had become part of a positive force toward change.
We believe Military Spouse has been a big part of changing the dialogue surrounding military spouses and giving them a voice. You have helped us do that by sharing your stories with us.
Recently, you may have read about an FTC matter concerning our company, Victory Media. The FTC findings can be found here. These have been spun online into something they are not by different online outlets.
While this matter centered around an aspect of our business not related to our Military Spouse programs, I would like the opportunity to give you some facts, in case you are concerned:
Military Friendly is a data-driven, algorithmic process.
Military Friendly School (MFS) status is based largely on an organizational survey which contains over a hundred questions and takes an average of 15 to 17 hours to complete. We pull public data from IPEDS and other sources. The process is audited by Ernst & Young, and 89 percent of the MFS-designated schools do not advertise with us.
The tax filing status of a school is not a factor for us. We care simply about school behavior and outcomes; encouraging good ones and discouraging bad ones. Here are some additional facts:
- Only 6% of our company revenue comes from for-profit schools.
- 85% of our education advertisers are non-profit schools.
- Approximately 90% of all Military Friendly-designated schools are nonprofit schools.
- We regularly report on topics like closing the 90/10 loophole.
I have attached a profile of our company, which gives you a glimpse of who we are, what we do and why we do what we do.
Regarding the FTC matter, this is a situation Victory Media is resolving amicably with the Commission. Here’s what you should know:
The FTC conducted a thorough exam of our company’s business practices, looking at years of information; including tens of thousands of articles, emails, ads and invoices. The Commission found a few instances where they determined the disclosures of advertiser relationships needed to be more clear and conspicuous. We were happy to provide more clarity. They also found some references to an online school matchmaker tool that they determined did not accurately enough reflect the search scope of the tool.
The findings were not about the vast majority of our business which has nothing to do with education advertising including Military Spouse of the Year and Military Spouse Friendly Employers.
Here’s what the FTC asked us to do:
The Commission issued an administrative complaint with no fines. They asked us to continue to work to be more clear and conspicuous with disclosures. Since their remedy was not in conflict with any of our business practices, it was an easy decision to accept their findings and comply promptly.
Here’s what we have done to go above and beyond in complying with the FTC’s order:
Formalized and implemented a world class editorial and advertising compliance policy to ensure the maximum level of clarity and transparency.
In 2016, we increased the level of clarity and transparency between the G.I. Jobs media brand and the independence and objectivity of the Military Friendly ratings program with additional language added to both web sites. An example can be found in the extensive FAQs on our Military Friendly ratings program.
We discontinued the matchmaker tool in mid-2016. If you go to www.gijobs.com, you will find our paid clients. If you go to www.militaryfriendly.com, you will find a complete list of all Military Friendly designated schools.
We continue to encourage the development of a public-private partnership to create the best outcomes for veterans in higher education, by pushing the Better for Veterans initiative that we authored in the summer of 2016.
We voluntarily established a policy in the fall of 2016 that we do not accept advertising from any educational institution whose accreditation has been suspended; the status of one or more of specified federal education programs has been suspended; and/or an active federal caution flag has been applied against the school and 5 percent or more of enrolled GI Bill participants at the school have filed complaints with the VA.
I want you to know what we are doing because a lot of online articles aren’t giving you all of the facts. We are not sure what the motivation is behind these actions.
We have regularly and proactively reached out to the individuals who initiated these actions to explain to them that we are aligned in our pursuit of providing optimal education outcomes for veterans and spouses. We have been consistently met with resistance to work together.
The Military Friendly Schools program is a powerful tool which has tremendous influence over the veteran recruiting behaviors of thousands of civilian organizations. It has created immeasurable opportunity for our nation’s veterans and spouses.
We want you to know that Victory Media is more than a company. We are a group of veterans and military spouses who care deeply about those who serve, and those who served. Let’s work together to improve employment and schooling opportunities for our veterans and spouses.
I welcome your questions about this matter so we can partner together to make our community stronger.
It’s Veteran’s Day. Thank you for serving.
CEO and Co-Founder
U.S. Navy Veteran (1987-1999)
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