So the government is shut down. What does that mean for student veterans?

vet_blog3To find out more about the Government Shutdown and how it will affect D’Youville College student veterans and veteran dependents, I met with Mr. Ben Randle, Director of Veteran Affairs at D’Youville.

1. Will my benefits, especially Basic Allowance Housing (BAH), be delayed?

If the student is returning then no, not until after the end of October.  If the shutdown continues after October 17th and the payment center is furloughed, then beginning November 1st these student veterans may not receive their scheduled BAH payment.  Student veterans new to the school and to the VA have not yet received payment due to the time frame needed by the VA to process their application.

2. Who and what departments in the VA have been furloughed during the shutdown?

Closed:

  • VA loan processors and property tax exemption processing
  • VOC/REHAB counseling services
  • ALL education counseling services
  • VA insurance processing
  • VA legal services
  • VA work study
  • No new applications for any benefits are being processed including health care.  Therefore no new claims can be entertained

Not Affected:

  • VA medical facilities
  • VA payment center (comp/pen and VA ed benefits)
  • VA debt management
  • VA secretary’s office in Washington

3. There are rumors circulating in the “active duty military” community that the government is considering the termination of veteran benefits; Is this true?

There are rumors, but they are only rumors.  There is no substantive evidence that anyone has proposed this.  This is law and it would take an act of Congress to abolish it.  It cannot be unilaterally done by the executive branch.

4. Where can I go to get these questions answered?

Since the VA, for all intents and purposes, is closed, you cannot access real-time info on this topic.  Congress is open, as are the regional congressional offices.  E-mails, phone calls, etc. to these offices are your only hope to get answers.

5. How many Student-Veterans are on the D’Youville Campus?

There are 295 Student-Veterans and 143 Veteran dependents (438 total)

6. What services are offered by The Veteran Affairs Office?

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  • Admissions – recruiting student-veterans and their dependents
  • Advisement – advising veterans and their dependents on their benefits – education, loans, healthcare, counseling, insurance, property tax exemptions etc.  The major advisement, of course, is on educational benefits.
  • Explaining the benefits available through local and state governments for education (i.e. VTAP)
  • Advisement and monitoring of college benefits from D’Youville College for veterans and their dependents (VW and VDW)
  • Recruit, supervise and send payroll forward for VA work study students
  • Retention – provide counseling services for our student veterans and their dependents
  • Provide tutorial services for our student veterans and veteran dependents
  • Work with financial aid, student accounts, the registrar’s office, and the  various deans and department chairs on behalf of student veteran concerns and issues
  • Advise and support the Student Veterans of America Chapter on campus.
  • In a word the DYC Veteran Affairs Office is a full service office with the goal of taking pressure off the student veteran so that he/she can concentrate on school.  Recruit, retain, and graduate!  We have a 96.7% retention rate and a 94.8% graduation rate

7. Why were we recently named #1 Military Friendly College in NYS?

vet_blog2The Veteran Affairs Office ranks as high as it does because it is staffed by Veterans for Veterans.  The staff has used the same benefits, speak the language, share the experiences and relate in all ways to the needs of the veteran and his/her dependents.  The office is open Monday-Saturday from 0730 to 2030.  When staff is out, VA work study students are available.  The office provides mentoring and tutorial services by veterans for veterans, provides a place they can call home (VAO Lounge and computer room).  Both staff are not only veterans, but also educators with 50+ years of experience between them.  The student-veteran knows that we care about them personally; It’s the personal touch – knowing the students, being open and willing to share one’s own experiences both in the military and in life that really makes a difference.