When a veteran returns home from active military service, several important elements need to fall into place to ensure a smooth transition back into civilian life. Health care for both physical and mental ailments is a must. Next, the veteran needs housing. After those considerations are squared away, it's time to either enter the workforce or return to academia for further education. Higher learning can play an important part in helping military personnel improve their lives, which is why programs that help connect vets with schools are in such high demand. Today, there are many organizations all over the country lending a hand in their communities.
Connecting vets with benefits in Jacksonville
Alabama news station ABC 33/40 recently focused on efforts by Jacksonville State University staff to make sure veterans in the area know how to access the education benefits they receive upon leaving the service. The college will soon sport a new veterans center on campus. JSU Director of Veteran Services Justin Parker explained that the school takes its role in vets' lives seriously – it can be the driving force that helps them rejoin the civilian population.
The GI Bill is in place to help pay for higher education, but since its benefits aren't universally known, projects such as JSU's have an important role to play. Congressman Mike Rogers told the news provider that a lack of clarity on education options is one of biggest hurdles keeping veterans from re-entering civilian life successfully.
"It was disappointing to learn that as part of their exit interviews and their exit process that they aren't given more in depth knowledge about all the opportunities that are there as far as assistance," Rogers added.
JSU appears to be an appropriate place for veterans outreach: The university had approximately 430 students using VA benefits as of the Spring 2016 semester. The opening of the new center will help this group, as well as the next wave of vets who may be considering school but are unsure what benefits they qualify for. Parker explained to ABC 33/40 that he sees JSU becoming an even greater part of the local community once it has more resources for military outreach.
Standing up for the GI Bill
Of course, benefits due to veterans could change. It depends on what happens to the GI Bill itself. According to Military Times, the organization Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America is attempting to ensure that lawmakers stop any cuts to this legislation. The group's campaign is a reaction to worries that the bill may be dismantled due to the fact that the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are no longer as prominent in the public consciousness.
The news provider noted that the House of Representatives passed legislation to halve the GI Bill housing allowance. The measure is up for evaluation in the Senate and, despite promises that some of the money saved with the cut will go to scholarships for children who have lost a military parent, leaders of IAVA are worried about the serious effect housing funding reductions could have on vets. With around $12 billion going to the bill this year, this is likely not the last attempt by lawmakers to cut parts of it.