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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

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Boots to Books:Best Practices for Administering Veteran’s Benefits

Scholarships & Financial Aid

Texas A&M University

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  • Commitment to Veterans

  • Veteran Culture

  • Educational Benefits

  • Best Practices

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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.

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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.

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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

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  • Who is the returning veteran?

  • Military culture & deployment

  • Concerns affecting veteran students

  • Best practices for advising veteran and military students

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Which Students Are “Veterans”?

  • Active duty

  • Reserves

  • National Guard

  • Former military

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  • 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

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Challenges for Veteran/Military Students Iraq and Afghanistan

  • 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

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In Advising Iraq and Afghanistan

  • What might you see?

    • Anxiety

    • Reluctance

    • Stress

    • Frustration

    • Aggressiveness

    • Fatigue

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How to Advise Iraq and Afghanistan

  • 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

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Strategies for Working with Veterans Iraq and Afghanistan

  • 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

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Invisible Wounds of War Iraq and Afghanistan

  • 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

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PTSD Rates Iraq and Afghanistan

  • 40% of OIF/OEF veterans have or will acquire PTSD

  • 30% lifetime rate of Vietnam vets

  • Why the rise?

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PTSD & Anger Iraq and Afghanistan

  • 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_

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PTSD & Other Concerns Iraq and Afghanistan

  • Marital problems, divorce

  • Parenting problems, poorer family adjustment

  • Less self disclosing

  • Sexual dysfunction

  • Interpersonal violence

  • Secondary traumatization

National Center for PTSD

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Traumatic Brain Injury Iraq and Afghanistan(TBI)

  • “Signature Injury” of OIF/OEF due to Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs)

  • Prevalence hard to estimate

  • Explosions count for 75% of combat-related injuries

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Traumatic Brain Injury Iraq and AfghanistanSymptoms

  • Headaches

  • Tinnitus

  • Dizziness, balance problems

  • Sleep problems

  • Persistent fatigue

  • Speech, hearing and vision impairments (sometimes sensitivity to light, sound)

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Traumatic Brain Injury Symptoms, cont. Iraq and Afghanistan

  • 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

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Traumatic Brain Injury Symptoms, cont. Iraq and Afghanistan

  • Poor impulse and anger control

    • Easily irritated by problem-solving or multi-tasking

    • Difficulty inhibiting behavior

    • Changes in sexual behavior or interest

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Traumatic Brain Injury Iraq and Afghanistan

  • 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”

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SUICIDE Iraq and Afghanistan

  • 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)

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PTSD & Suicidality Iraq and Afghanistan

  • 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.

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Veterans Benefits overview Iraq and Afghanistan

  • 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

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Benefits Continued Iraq and Afghanistan

  • 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.

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Post 9/11-Chapter 33 GI Bill Iraq and Afghanistan

  • 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

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Chapter 33-Post 9/11 GI Bill Iraq and Afghanistan

  • 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.

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Active Duty-Chapter 33 Iraq and Afghanistan

  • 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

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Military Friendly Checklist Iraq and Afghanistan

  • 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

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Military Friendly Checklist Iraq and Afghanistan

  • 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

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Troops to College Iraq and Afghanistan

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.

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Veteran Services at Texas A&M University Iraq and Afghanistan

  • 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

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Jolee Iraq and Afghanistan

Helpful Information

  • Veteran Services Office


    • Student Counseling Services


  • VA/GI Bill Information


    • Texas Hazlewood Information