iStock_000012937144XSmallIn recent years, 950,000 veterans received education benefits, and the Student Veterans of America welcomed its 500th chapter.  The possibilities are endless and support is out there for veterans interested in education as a path toward employment.

To help vets of all ages considering going back to school or an apprenticeship, VetsFirst has released a new Knowledge Book, Disabled Veterans Employment and Education: Gearing up for Your Future.

The guide is chock full of information on: creating a path to employment; choosing school as a path to employment; understanding and defining disability; and self-advocacy: knowing your rights and responsibilities.

In Section 3 we learn that Research; Understanding GI benefits; Accommodations (i.e., support, tools and equipment); Visiting; and Asking Questions are key to returning to, or attending school for the first time.

Research – Don’t be swayed by a designation of “military- or veteran-friendly.”  In 2012, Student Veterans of America  suspended chapters at 40 for-profit colleges, alleging that the colleges set them up as “shell organizations to help them appeal to veteran students who carry lucrative government tuition benefits.”

  • Create Your Own Definition of “Veteran-Friendly”- Factors such as campus culture, academic environment, student body size and composition, location, and more all play a role in what programs and services might characterize “veteran-friendly.”
  • Carefully Examine the School’s Website– search for veterans benefits or a VA Certifying Official
  • Find out How Your Military Transcripts Translate to Coursework
  • Review the School’s Policies– entrance exams, transcript review, deferral and readmission may affect a veteran, especially if monthly drills or if deployment is possible

Be an Informed Consumer: Spend your GI Benefits Wisely

  • You may qualify for increased payment rates, housing stipends if an online student, book stipends, support for apprenticeship programs, and more.  Not all schools will let you use benefits the same way.
  • Post 9/11 GI Bill Benefits are flexible and can be applied to a traditional school, apprenticeship, on-the-job training, and non-college degree programs.

Assess your Needs – Both as a Veteran and as a Student with a Disability

Some schools may offer better supports and resources for students and veterans with and without disabilities.  Compare schools for:

  • Academic Tutoring
  • Veteran-Only Courses
  • Accommodations for students with disabilities (e.g., extended time on exams, note taking assistance)
  • Health and Mental Health Services
  • Career Services

Finally, Visit and Ask Questions – Search for a Student Veteran Organization on campus or talk to professors, staff, or other students.

Check out Section 6 of the Knowledge Book for a list and links to Resources as well as Guiding Questions to help you through the process.

Questions, comments about this post or creating your path to employment? Ask VetsFirst. We want to support and celebrate your achievements.

Thanks to Heather Ansley, VetsFirst vice president for Veterans Policy, for her leadership, vision and extensive work in developing this guide.

Carol Tyson
VetsFirst Policy Associate