By June Olsen, Accredited Online Colleges
Veterans who return to civilian life often have a difficult transition; after serving in the military and adjusting to rigorous discipline and structure, it can be overwhelming to return home only to find that life isn’t the same as when they left. Often, this can lead to depression or feelings of aimlessness, particularly if the returning veteran finds him- or herself unemployed, an outcome that is becoming more common in the United States’ current poor economy.
Fortunately, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs provides health care, counseling, and for returning veterans. Additionally, Veterans Affairs provides programs to help returning veterans transition to civilian life. Injured veterans have access to the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program, while all veterans have access to the GI Bill, which provides funding for returning veterans to go to their choice of colleges online or on a physical campus.
The advantages of going to college within a few years of returning from service are several: first, in an economy where many U.S. citizens don’t have a job, the problem of joblessness is particularly acute for those without a college education. Therefore, getting a degree can help make finding later work that much easier. Second, for veterans who feel they lack structure in their life, taking courses can provide some structure and direction (albeit not nearly at the level found in the military). And, third, adjusting to civilian life means re-adjusting to a social life. A campus environment can help veterans do this.
Therefore, many veterans choose to avail themselves of the GI Bill, which provides up to one hundred percent tuition reimbursement for veterans attending college. The program is fairly straightforward: any qualifying veteran who applies to a qualified program will get reimbursed for most (or all) of his or her college expenses. Simply visit the Veterans Affairs website on the GI Bill to see what programs qualify and for how much you qualify.
When considering programs, there are some important things to keep in mind: in-state programs are reimbursed to their full cost (up to the percentage of reimbursement for which the veteran is eligible), while private or out-of-state programs have a reimbursement cap at $17,500 per year. A final consideration is for veterans to carefully plan their college tenures; the GI Bill will only cover four years of schooling, so any additional education veterans take on must be covered by their own funds.
In sum, transition to civilian life is important, as is choosing a college or educational program that allows for personal and career growth. Therefore, it may be worthwhile to work with career counselors or for a veteran to otherwise seriously consider what he or she wants to do with his or her post-military life before he or she makes use of the opportunity to attend college.
June recently graduated with a degree in educational psychology. She currently works as a writer on all things education and is always interested in connecting with bloggers online.