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Veterans Groups Agree on Four GI Bill Changes

GI Bill (1)

By Debbie Gregory.

Last month, thirty-five veteran groups banded together and stalled a congressional hearing.

The groups were in the U.S. Capital to weigh in on changes to the Post 9/11 GI Bill.  They want change and to close some loopholes.

While they agree on more than they disagree on, the area of disagreement concerns whether or not to charge new enlistees for their GI Bill benefit.
The areas of agreement include:

  • There should be a fix to a Pentagon deployment authorization that is unfairly preventing thousands of Reservists and Guardsmen from earning GI Bill benefits. About 4,700 Reservists and Guardsmen who deployed under Title 10, Section 12304b have been restricted from accumulating education benefits.
  • Also in agreement among veteran groups is a measure to bring the mobilization authority up to par with active-duty entitlements
  • Expanding eligibility for the Yellow Ribbon Program to surviving spouses and children of servicemembers killed in the line of duty. The program allows veterans to attend schools or enroll in programs that cost more than the GI Bill tuition cap.
  • Expanding full GI Bill benefits to all Purple Heart recipients. Currently, a veteran must be medically retired from the military or have 36 months of active-duty service to qualify.  There are approximately 1,500 Purple Heart recipients who aren’t eligible for full education benefits.  If you’ve been wounded on the battlefield, you’ve met the service requirement.
  • Assisting student veterans whose schools close. Last year, for-profit ITT Technical Institute closed its doors, and thousands of veterans who attended the campuses were unable to recover lost education benefits. The situation has also happened with other for-profit schools that have closed.

The major issue that these groups cannot reach consensus on which has divided veteran groups is the Post 9/11 GI Bill expansion and funding it.   It has been recommended by some of the veteran groups that new enlistees would pay $2,400 over a two year period to opt into this benefit.

Some Veteran groups have described this as “a tax on troops”.

There will be further discussions between veteran groups on whether to charge servicemembers for the GI Bill.

Tell us what you think and check out the multitude of educational information on our site militaryconnection.com.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

State and Community Colleges Successful for Student Veterans

vet center

By Debbie Gregory.

Student veterans face challenges that their civilian counterparts don’t; they are usually older than civilian students and in many cases, they are juggling college with families, jobs and service-related disabilities.

Student veterans believe that their discipline, maturity and drive aid them if facing their many challenges. But on the flip side, many of them find the less disciplined environment of a campus can be a problem for veterans used to being told what to do and when to do it

Many colleges and universities are eager to recruit military veteran students, attracted to the $10.2 billion a year in GI Bill benefits that come with them. Unfortunately, many of the large for-profit schools such as ITT Technical Institute and Corinthian (parent company to Heald College, Everest College and WyoTech) have gone out of business, leaving their veteran students hanging.

For colleges and universities looking to boost the number of veterans who will leave with a degree in hand, specialized support is key. According to the Departments of Defense, Education and Veterans Affairs, schools that don’t offer support to their student veterans have a very poor graduation percentage.

Many state and community colleges and universities with significant veteran support enjoy high levels of success. These schools will usually have some combination of a Veteran Center, dedicated veteran advisors and/or counselors, and a chapter of Student Veterans of America.

They also know how to convert military training and experience into academic credit. This can mean the difference between having enough GI Bill money to earn a degree, so that student veterans don’t have to choose between giving up or paying out of their own pockets.

According to Jared Lyon, president and CEO of Student Veterans of America and a Florida State grad, campuses that get it right are the ones “that look at the student veteran population as nontraditional students. It starts with the efforts to recruit, and there’s also a veterans resource office, a veterans center, a veterans lounge, a campus veteran success center.”

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

VITAL Puts Psychologists on Campuses for Student Veterans

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By Debbie Gregory.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has deployed a contingent of mental health helpers to dozens of college campuses across the country to assist student veterans.

The program, Veterans Integration to Academic Leadership, (VITAL) is designed to make it easier for student veterans to get help transitioning from the military to the classroom.

While veterans and military service members arrive on campus with a wealth of knowledge, strengths, and experiences typically not seen within the traditional student population, they may also arrive with unique challenges. Many student veterans report difficulty adjusting to school after deployment, difficulty managing military versus civilian roles and identity, and difficulty relating to non-veterans.

“VITAL focuses on supporting veterans to address any issues or barriers — internal or external — so they may meet their educational goals and be successful in school,” says Kai Chitaphong, VITAL’s national director. “All of our VITAL coordinators are licensed clinical psychologists or social workers who, depending on the student veteran’s preference, can provide clinical counseling on campus or refer them to our closest VA medical center or community-based outpatient clinic for care.”

Giving schools tools they can use to truly welcome and support our returning service members is one way to repay that debt we owe our veterans, by making sure we are providing our veterans and military families with an education worthy of their exceptional talents and experience.

The program has grown from five locations its first year in 2011 to more than 100 colleges and universities, 23 medical centers and 16 Veterans Integrated Services Network locations.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Military Connection: College Admission Counseling for Veterans

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By Joe Silva

Millions of Veterans have enrolled in college through the use of the Post-9/11 GI Bill or other Veteran education benefits. Veteran education benefits provide those who served their country with the means to pay for their higher education, including vocational certificates or degree programs. While these benefits are a great way to say thank you, they do not necessarily provide Veterans with the knowledge needed to ensure that they get the education that they have earned. Many Veterans could benefit from mentorship and counseling on how to use their benefit to select the right school for them.

Unfortunately, students can’t always rely on the advisors and counselors at prospective schools. Due to the rapid influx of Veteran students onto college and university campuses, several practices have been initiated by institutions of higher learning designed to help the school more than the Veteran. Additionally, many schools and  staff members who actually do have Veterans’ best interests in mind, aren’t always knowledgeable about Veteran education benefits and how they work.

It is for this reason that MilitaryConnection.com would like to let every Veteran student know about Service to School.

Service to School is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that was created to provide free college application counseling to Veterans, with the goal of maximizing their education benefit. The organization was founded by three combat Veterans, Gus Giacoman, Tim Hsia, Khalil Tawil while they were enrolled in elite graduate programs. The three joined forces with Anna Ivey, the former Dean of Admissions from the University of Chicago Law School. The group began a dialogue on how Veterans have a very different struggle when it comes to admissions policies, and how there aren’t enough resources for Veteran students.

Service to School connects Veteran college applicants with “Ambassadors,” who are volunteers and very often Veterans and/or higher education staff. The ambassadors are proficient with both Veterans education benefits and higher education admissions. Service to School Ambassadors are available to coach Veterans as to how to gain admission into the very best undergraduate or graduate programs at the finest schools in the country.  The organization provides Veterans with mentorship, application assistance, résumé assistance, application essay assistance, interview preparation and network assistance.

Easing the process will make the road to higher education easier to navigate, therefore presenting a better chance of arriving at the final destination…the coveted graduation, with degree in hand.

For more information about Service to School visit www.Service2School.org.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: College Admission Counseling for Veterans: By Joe Silva

Military Connection: Study Finds that Veterans Need Support to Cope

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By Debbie Gregory.

A recent study has revealed that Veteran students have a difficult time overcoming the use of avoidance coping strategies, often linked to anxiety and depression. Using avoidance coping strategies means that one minimizes or completely ignores negative thoughts or emotions. But with the support of their families and friends, they increase their probability for success.

The study was conducted by the Veterans Experiencing the Transition to Students (VETS) project, which is directed by Dr. Shelley Riggs, an Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of North Texas (UNT). For the study, 165 Veterans, from every military branch, who are currently attending one of three universities in Texas were surveyed. Of these students, 117 of them had been deployed in support of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Veteran participants were surveyed about psychological symptoms, including PTSD, depression and anxiety. The Veteran students were also asked questions in regards to other aspects of their lives, including questions about their adjustment to college life, their sense of connection to their college communities, their coping styles, personal and romantic relationships, and their support networks.

The findings of the data collected through the survey showed that Veterans had a tendency to rely on avoidance coping strategies for stress. This type of coping strategy is prevalent (and, at times, is necessary) for service members who have missions to accomplish. But for those who have separated, the continued use of this type of coping strategy is often tied with anxiety and depression, and tends to interfere with a Veteran’s successful adaptation and psychological functioning in a school setting.

The study also found that Veterans who used problem-focused coping strategies, such as identifying problematic stress, and then took the necessary measures to resolve or overcome it, reported significantly lower levels of depression and generalized anxiety symptoms. But this was only successful in the cases who reported high levels of emotional support from family members.

Having a healthy support network has been found to be a vital component to the success of transitioning Veterans, in school, in the workplace and in their homes. Veterans need to make sure that they keep the lines of communication with their family and close friends open.

Like the message found in the popular song written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, Veterans should remind themselves that they, too, can get by with a little help from their friends… and family.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Study Finds that Veterans Need Support to Cope: By Debbie Gregory