Boots to Books:Best Practices for Administering Veteran’s Benefits Scholarships & Financial Aid Texas A&M University
Agenda: • Commitment to Veterans • Veteran Culture • Educational Benefits • Best Practices
Commitment to Veterans Texas A&M University has always had a strong military presence and is steeped in military history. Currently we serve over 1000 students using benefits including veterans, military, and dependents. We are committed to providing the best educational services to these students and are a proud member of Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges (SOC) to demonstrate this commitment.
Mission Statement To provide and assist veterans, service members and military families with information and resources in making their transition from military to academic life.
The Numbers Fall 2010 to date- 1000+ • This includes Veterans and dependents on federal and/or state benefits We have seen the numbers increase dramatically in 2009-2010 with the biggest increase in Chap. 33 dependents and Hazlewood dependents
Who is the returning veteran? • Military culture & deployment • Concerns affecting veteran students • Best practices for advising veteran and military students
Which Students Are “Veterans”? • Active duty • Reserves • National Guard • Former military
OEF = Operation Enduring Freedom • Began 7 Oct 2001 in response to terrorist attacks and further threats • Multinational military operation fought mostly in Afghanistan • OIF = Operation Iraqi Freedom • Began 20 Mar 2003 • Multinational military operation fought entirely in Iraq
VA reports that 1.6 million men and women have served in Iraq and Afghanistan • Approximately 500,000 veterans of those wars now collect benefits from the current GI Bill Inside Higher Ed, July 11, 2008
Challenges for Veteran/Military Students • Inflexible/bureaucratic administrative structures • Lack of preparation by university systems • Unique social barriers with classmates due to age and experience • Loss of sense of purpose, teamwork and camaraderie; need for cohesive interaction with “true” peers • Significant mental health barriers as a result of military service
In Advising • What might you see? • Anxiety • Reluctance • Stress • Frustration • Aggressiveness • Fatigue
How to Advise • Create a safe, open, and welcoming space • Non-judgmental • Privacy • “Safe” environment • Build trust and understanding • LISTEN to what is said and not said • Let the student talk • Ask open-ended questions about on-campus experience and challenges
Strategies for Working with Veterans • Let them talk…make plenty of time • Avoid intrusive/inappropriate questions • Be aware of resources on campus that veteran students may need • Get to know Admissions contacts that work with Veterans • Get to know the Student Counseling Service • Get to know Academic Resources • Get to know the Veteran Students Association • Know your students and the “student issues” calendar of the year
Invisible Wounds of War • 14% PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) • 14% Depression • 19% Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) • 33% PTSD, Depression, or TBI • 5% reported symptoms of all three Rand Corporation, 2008
PTSD Rates • 40% of OIF/OEF veterans have or will acquire PTSD • 30% lifetime rate of Vietnam vets • Why the rise?
PTSD & Anger • Higher levels of anger/ hostility (see Orth & Wieland, 2006) • Anger/ hostility more associated in samples of combat veterans (see Orth & Wieland, 2006) • Veterans with PTSD • respond with more hostility in non-provoking IP interactions (Beckham et al., 1996) • experience more anger in response to trauma cues (Pitman, et al., 1987; Taft et al., 2006_
PTSD & Other Concerns • Marital problems, divorce • Parenting problems, poorer family adjustment • Less self disclosing • Sexual dysfunction • Interpersonal violence • Secondary traumatization National Center for PTSD
Traumatic Brain Injury(TBI) • “Signature Injury” of OIF/OEF due to Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) • Prevalence hard to estimate • Explosions count for 75% of combat-related injuries
Traumatic Brain InjurySymptoms • Headaches • Tinnitus • Dizziness, balance problems • Sleep problems • Persistent fatigue • Speech, hearing and vision impairments (sometimes sensitivity to light, sound)
Traumatic Brain Injury Symptoms, cont. • Impairments in attention, concentration, and organization • Slowed thinking, reading • Impaired decision-making or problems-solving • “I just don’t feel like myself” • Memory problems: more like dementia and amnesia • Slowed thinking, reading
Traumatic Brain Injury Symptoms, cont. • Poor impulse and anger control • Easily irritated by problem-solving or multi-tasking • Difficulty inhibiting behavior • Changes in sexual behavior or interest
Traumatic Brain Injury • Relationship between TBI and PTSD: • Each can complicate diagnosis and treatment of the other • Very difficult to sort out PTSD, Depression, and head injury symptoms • TBI can present as “psychological”; “personality disorder”
SUICIDE • From 2005-2007 the suicide rate among 18-29 year-old male veterans jumped 26% (Veterans Affairs Department) • Of the 30,000 Americans who take their lives each year, 6,000 are veterans (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Eric Shinseki) • In 2009 the suicide rate in all four military branches was higher than the overall national average (52 Marines, 48 sailors and 41 airmen took their lives) (Lisa Black and Stacy St. Clair, Chicago Tribune)
PTSD & Suicidality • PTSD patients 6 times more likely to attempt suicide than the general population • PTSD has higher risk of increased number of suicide attempts than all other anxiety disorders • 19% of patients with PTSD will attempt suicide Kessler et al. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1999;56:617.
Veterans Benefits overview • Chapter 35 – Dependent • Dependent of 100% disabled or deceased Veterans – base rate up to $925 per month • Chapter 31 – Disabled Veterans • Disabled Veterans – Tuition, fees, books and other incidentals as allowed by Voc Rehab, $547.54 base rate per month (with no dependents) • Chapter 30- Veterans • $1321 per month (can be increased with “kicker” college fund) • Chapter 30-Active duty • Tuition and fees only
Benefits Continued • Chapter 1606 • Selected Reservist without active duty time, up to $333 a month • Chapter 1607 • Selective Reservist or Individual Ready Reservist with active duty service. Base rate up to $1094.40 per month with 2 + years’ service, percentage of Chp. 30 payment on service time.
Post 9/11-Chapter 33 GI Bill • Individual who served on active duty after September 10, 2001. • Served an aggregate period of at least 90 days or served 30 days of active duty with a disability discharge • Maximum benefit paid for at least 36 months
Chapter 33-Post 9/11 GI Bill • Tuition & (mandatory) fees paid directly to school • Monthly housing allowance paid to the student based on the BAH(basic allowance for housing) for an E-5 with dependents and on the ZIP code of the location of the school the beneficiary is attending ($1047.00 for BCS). Active duty not eligible. • Annual book stipend of $1,000 paid proportionately based on enrollment up to 24 credits per year ($41.67 per credit hour). Active duty not eligible.
Active Duty-Chapter 33 • Individuals on active duty are eligible for the lesser of: • tuition and fees charged OR • amount of charges that exceed the amount paid by military tuition assistance • Individuals on active duty are NOT eligible for the BAH and books & supplies
Military Friendly Checklist • Dedicated Veteran Services Office-one central location to obtain information • Dedicated veterans academic advisor • Dedicated veterans admissions advisor-targeted communication prior to their arrival on campus. • Streamlined withdrawal and reenrollment processes for deployed students while in school • Deferred tuition and fees pending VA funds • Veteran New Student Orientation • Veteran faculty/staff mentors and training for these mentors
Military Friendly Checklist • VA work study opportunities • Recognized Veteran Student Organization • Student services tailored to veterans • Yellow Ribbon Program participant • Veteran Programs and Workshops • Enhance Website-easy to find information and link on schools website • Establish an Advisory committee that includes representation across campus. • Offer early class registration for Veterans
Troops to College The Troops to College Committee was formed in December 2008 as part of Project Military Friendly within the Texas A&M University System. This group was formed to address veterans’ issues on campus and to take up initiatives brought forth by the committee, students, academic community, and local community to help Texas A&M University honor our military heritage and to do all we can to be Military Friendly.
Veteran Services at Texas A&M University • VA and Texas education benefits processing • Program advising for other campus departments • Scholarships & Financial Aid assistance • Referrals to other campus and community resources • Admissions • Student Affairs / Student Assistance Center • Student Counseling Services • Disability Services • Academic Advising • ROTC Office • Office of the Commandant • Texas Workforce Commission – Texas Veterans Commission • Veterans Affairs in College Station • Other veteran community resources
Jolee http://www.aggienetwork.com/Exhibits/AggieVideo.aspx?QS=rLUcJ93dH%252fNwYz1ql4gPbEPH8YP2rBPoaZRE50voJcw%253d Helpful Information • Veteran Services Office • http://veterans.tamu.edu • Student Counseling Services • http://scs.tamu.edu • VA/GI Bill Information • http://gibill.va.gov • Texas Hazlewood Information • http://Collegeforalltexans.com