“Military Friendly” Tag Questioned, 40 SVA Chapters Closed

Does your college offer peer support and specific resources for student veterans on the Post 9/11 GI Bill? What criteria is used to measure a college’s “friendliness” to new student veterans?

Those are questions that Alex Horton asks in his blog posting. He lists some growing concerns on how some schools have misused the “military friendly” designation to attract student veterans. The VA blog, Vantage Point:

To mischaracterize the amount and quality of Veteran resources on campus in order to appear “military friendly,” then, is to undermine the crucial development period of reintegration. And as we reported yesterday, some schools use administrative staff to control student Vets groups in a bid to leverage the military friendly identity.

So what can you do to protect yourself and ensure your school can adequately support Veterans? Above all else, only trust education benefits resources from VA itself. Our GI Bill homepage, along with the GI Bill Facebook page, offers accurate news and information. There are all kinds of websites that benefit financially from offering questionable information without accountability.

The Student Veterans of America actually shutdown 40 SVA chapters based at for-profit colleges after it was discovered the chapters had no veteran members and were only being used to market the college

Michael Dakduk, SVA executive director, told the Stars and Stripes a routine review uncovered problems at the for-profit college chapters:

Numerous chapters were founded with a faculty member as the main point of contact, he said, instead of a student veteran. Those chapters were found to have no actual student members, and the SVA brand was being used by the schools’ marketing departments in recruiting efforts.

“SVA will not allow institutions of higher learning, whether for-profit or not, to use the name Student Veterans of America for the sole benefit of the institution,” he said.

The Student Veterans of America has published a full explanation behind revoking 40 chapter memberships.

Changes in Post 9-11 GI Bill for Veteran Students

Student veterans using the Post 9-11 GI Bill need to know that there are changes to the benefits and many take effect this week according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The following is from Vantage Point, the VA blog:

Why the changes?

Education benefits are now available for folks in the National Guard that accumulated active duty time under Title 32, and expands options for non-degree seeking students, like flight school and apprenticeships. That change puts education benefits into the hands of tens of thousands of Veterans. But to allow more Veterans to take advantage of the Post-9/11 GI Bill (also known as Chapter 33), concessions had to be made to pay for it. Two changes to Chapter 33 will impact just about every student Veteran, and another change will change the way private school students receive tuition payments.

Break pay ends, but eligibility is expanded

Most Veterans are concerned over the loss of break pay, which were payments made during the holiday break and on either side of a summer semester (if classes were taken in the summer). Up until now, VA paid housing stipends for those days out of class. It was a help to students that needed additional income to pay rent. But there’s a catch that not everyone knew about: Those days were subtracted from the GI Bill eligibility time of 36 months. Now, you can use that time for more education. In a four-year degree plan, that additional time could add up to a semester or more of education benefits. That means a semester more of tuition and housing stipends.

Housing payments are now prorated and private, out-of-state and foreign school tuition is capped. The new rules signed into law established a national maximum of $17,500 to be paid to private and foreign schools.

You can get details on all the changes on the VA blog Vantage Point.

Homecoming Celebration for Veterans and Active-Duty

It’s labeled as a “homecoming.” In reality, it’s an opportunity for veterans to take advantage of  free health screenings, job information and to learn about their VA benefits.

Families greeting returned Florida National Guardsmen in December 2010 after almost a year's deployment.

The “Welcome Home America’s Heroes Celebration” for active-duty military and veterans who served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars is set March 26, a Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the University of South Florida, Tampa Campus, Martin Luther King Plaza.

The USF campus is home to about 1,000 war veterans and was the first to establish a VetSuccess on Campus program in June 2009. VetSuccess provides a full-time, experienced Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor and a part-time Vet Center Outreach Coordinator on campus to support war veteran students.

The “celebration” will give veterans and their families access to members of VetSuccess, the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital, USF Veterans Association, USF Office of Veterans Services, state and federal veterans affairs officials as well as elected officials.

You can learn more about the at the VA Vocational Rehabilitation Program and VetSuccess links or call 1-800-827-1000.

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