By Debbie Gregory.
While in the military, men and women in uniform are told what to wear, when to eat, and when to sleep. After their term of service has been completed, Veterans feel that they are left to fend for themselves. Veterans return to civilian-hood and try to prioritize the rest of their lives. For most Veterans, the first step for the rest of their lives is heading back to school and using their education benefits.
But how exactly are Veterans supposed to go about doing that? How do they get approved by the VA? Which school should they attend? How do they enroll? Will they get accepted? What subject should they study? What classes should they take? Veterans are left to figure out all of these questions, with little to no help.
Left to their own devices, many Veterans have found it difficult to access their benefits. Some have had difficulty gaining information on how to use their education benefits at their desired school. Some Veterans simply choose to enroll in the college closest to their home.
Unfortunately, there is currently no universal way to solve all of our Veterans’ problems. But with a little advanced preparation and research, Veterans can smoothly transition from servicemember to student.
Here are a few tips for using your education benefits:
Before using your education benefits, Veterans should take the time to decide what career field to work in. Whatever the motivation, be it money, happiness or talent, you should choose a career that you are passionate about. Once that is decided, then start looking at what education benefits are available to achieve a successful career in that field.
When researching options, the first step should always be the primary source. The primary source for a Veteran researching educational benefits is the VA’s education webpage. Veterans should view the information provided by the VA for their various benefits and GI Bills, and pick the best benefit to suit your career. The Post-9/11GI Bill is currently the most popular benefit, as well as the most generous to date, but time restrictions and educational goals might make it too cumbersome for some career paths.
Once the career/study path and benefit have been chosen, you’re in a better position to choose a school. When choosing a school, a high priority for prospective Veteran students should be the presence of Veteran representation on campus. Questions and issues regarding benefits are not over once you’re enrolled at a school. Veterans should contact a school’s Veterans Resource Center or similar entity and discuss their goals, prior to enrolling. If a school is incapable of completing this, they might not have your best interests in mind. Veterans should choose schools by researching their websites and even taking campus tours. Veterans should make sure that the school offers the degree program they desire.
As a Veteran, you have worked hard for your education benefits. You should take care not to squander the opportunity that you have been given to complete your education. Veterans are encouraged to seek information regarding every aspect of your education. You can never research the topic enough to make an informed decision regarding your education. The reason that most Veterans enlisted in the military was to create a better future. You are encouraged to give yourself the best opportunity to accomplish that mission.