ARLINGTON, Va: Officials with the Army Continuing Education System caution that some civilian organizations are taking advantage of uninformed Soldiers.

The Army’s Continuing Education System sponsors Army education centers worldwide, providing education-counseling services free of charge to Soldiers and their families.

“We (were informed) that Soldiers had been contacted about (these services) by different companies,” Dr. Robert Drake, program manager for Army/American Registry Transcript System in Fort Leavenworth, Kan., said. “We want to make sure that Soldiers know exactly where they are supposed to be going to receive the services and not pay for it themselves.”

The introduction of the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill has caused a flurry of activity with education-related services. Drake said some civilian companies are using the Veterans Affairs logo and military images on their Web sites to induce Soldiers to pay up front for education counseling or advocacy.

These organizations claim participating colleges and universities are fully accredited and recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation when they are not. Other companies boast reduced rates to attract servicemembers.

“There are some unscrupulous agencies where companies will set up a booth here or there and try to charge the Soldiers for counseling services. But they should not ever have to pay for them,” Drake said.

“Any kind of educational counseling or advice, you can receive at the AEC,” Drake said. The AEC caters to active-duty, Guard and Reserve Soldiers and their families, and can provide information on tuition assistance, degree program counseling, and the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill.

“The key thing for Soldiers to remember is they never have to pay for that type of service,” Drake said.