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VetSuccess now serving veterans at 94 campuses nationwide

SUN Columnist

The Department of Veterans Affairs has announced it is expanding the availability of services through the VetSuccess on Campus (VSOC) program to an additional 62 new locations this fall — bringing the number of VSOC schools across the country to 94.

“VetSuccess on Campus is an innovative approach to help veterans in the often difficult transition from military service to academic life,” said Allison A. Hickey, VA’s Under Secretary for Benefits. “Placing experienced VA counselors directly on college campuses strengthens VA’s partnership with institutions of higher learning and creates myriad opportunities to help veterans succeed.”

This expansion triples the number of on-campus VA vocational rehabilitation counselors available to help ease veterans’ transition to student life and assist them in achieving their educational and career goals through VA’s Post-9/11 GI Bill and other education benefit programs.

The counselors maintain close relationships with local VA Vet Centers and VA medical facilities, referring Veterans as needed for counseling or medical services and providing assistance enrolling in and applying for VA medical and nonmedical benefits.  Partner schools provide on-campus office space for the VA counselors.

Since the inception of the Post-9/11 GI Bill four years ago, VA has issued about $30 billion in payments to help nearly 1 million service members, veterans and family members pursue their education.

VSOC began in June 2009 with a pilot at the University of South Florida and expanded to San Diego State University and Cleveland State within six months.  The program continued to grow with five additional locations in 2011 and 24 by 2012.

Partner schools are selected for the size of their student veteran population and proximity to a VA Regional Office, Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Service office, Vet Center or VA medical center, among other factors.

VA health care benefits

VA operates the nation’s largest integrated health care system with more than 1,500 sites of care, including hospitals, community clinics, community living centers, domiciliaries, readjustment counseling centers, and various other facilities. For additional information on VA health care, visit www.va.gov/health.

Basic eligibility: A person who served in the active military, naval, or air service and who was discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable may qualify for VA health care benefits. Reservists and National Guard members may also qualify for VA health care benefits if they were called to active duty (other than for training only) by a federal order and completed the full period for which they were called or ordered to active duty.

Minimum duty requirements: Veterans who enlisted after Sept. 7, 1980, or who entered active duty after Oct. 16, 1981, must have served 24 continuous months or the full period for which they were called to active duty in order to be eligible. This minimum duty requirement may not apply to veterans discharged for hardship, early out or a disability incurred or aggravated in the line of duty.

Enrollment: For most Veterans, entry into the VA health care system begins by applying for enrollment completing a (VA Form 1010EZ), at your local Veterans Services Office, or at any VA health care facility or VA regional benefits office. Once enrolled, veterans can receive health care at VA health care facilities anywhere in the country. Veterans enrolled in the VA health care system are afforded privacy rights under federal law.

Trust fund

The American Legion Trust fund Grant for 2013-2014 now has funds available for veterans. Please see the Veterans Service Officer for assistance.

Information

For further information on any VA Benefits, please call or stop by the Archuleta County Veterans Service Office, located at the Senior Center in the Pagosa Springs Community Center, 451 Hot Springs Blvd.

The office number is 264-4013, fax number is 264-4014, cell number is 946-3590, and e-mail is raytaylor@archuletacounty.org. The office is open from 8 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Monday through Friday. Bring your DD Form 214 (Discharge) for completing applications to VA programs or benefits for which the veteran may be entitled to, and a copy for filing in the Archuleta County VSO office.

Meetings

The following veterans groups meet in Pagosa Springs:

American Legion Post 108: Second Wednesday of the month at 7 p.m., 287 Hermosa Street.

American Legion Post 108 Ladies Aux.: Second Tuesday of the month at 4 p.m., 287 Hermosa St.

Veterans for Veterans: Every Tuesday at 10 a.m., Quality Suites.

Women’s Group of Spouses of Veterans: Every other Monday at 6 p.m., St. Patrick Episcopal Parish Hall, 225 S. Pagosa Blvd. Contact Charlotte: 731-1025.

Point Man Ministries Breakfast for Veterans: Every Tuesday at 8:30 a.m. at Buffalo Inn, 164 N. Pagosa Blvd., Contact Vincent: (435) 618-0049 or Vfortunato777@gmail.com.

Contacts

Veterans for Veterans: 799-VETS, www.Vets4VetsPSCO.org.

Durango VA Outpatient Clinic: 247-2214.

Farmington VA Center: (505) 327-9684.

The Veterans Crisis Line offers free, confidential support to veterans in crisis, as well as their family and friends 24/7/365. Call (800) 273-8255, chat online or text 838255.

Your Veterans Service Officer

The Veterans Service Officer acts on behalf of veterans, families of veterans, or other designated persons for a veteran’s interests, to assist with information and applications for the Department of Veteran Affairs benefits and services, in which may include the Department of Defense.

This office assists with all veteran-related matters in the community, including citizens interested in veterans information and assistance ensuring privacy of personal information.

This includes assisting in determining the best course of action to maximize any and all VA benefits a veteran, or veteran-related person, may be entitled to; determine appropriate application processes for VA benefits and claims; assist in the completion of applications and forms to apply for benefits, including medical, military service and all other information required.

This office further assists veterans with VA Health Care questions or claims, and general information which affects the local veteran population.

This story was posted on September 5, 2013.