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VA Announces Big Expansion of ‘VetSuccess on Campus’

By Karen Parrish:  American Forces Press Service

As a new school year begins, a Department of Veterans Affairs official announced today that VA will nearly triple the number of colleges and universities it partners with to offer on-campus vocational and rehabilitative VA counseling through its “VetSuccess on Campus” program.

Curt Coy, VA’s deputy undersecretary for economic opportunity, told reporters during a conference call that the program, which began in 2009, will expand from its existing 32 campuses to 94. Its primary goal is to provide on-campus counseling and referral services to student veterans as they transition to civilian life, Coy said.

“We put an experienced vocational rehabilitation counselor, full-time, on a college campus to help not just wounded warriors or disabled veterans, bur for all veterans on the campus,” he explained.

Coy said the department looks for schools with veteran and beneficiary enrollment of at least 800 to 1,200 and strives to partner bigger colleges or universities with “feeder schools” such as community colleges, so they can share counseling resources. Officials also seek to ensure the campus is close to a VA regional center or medical facility.

Those regional VA facilities are where on-campus counselors come from, Coy noted, because the department assigns its most experienced people for on-campus work and then backfills their previous positions.

“The school has to ask or volunteer to host a … counselor,” he said. “They provide office space, access to their computers and a telephone.” The VA pays the counselor’s salary, he added.

Some 90 percent of a counselor’s workload may involve answering questions about educational benefits, Coy said, but he noted the program, which offers students veterans the chance for face-to-face conversation with a VA expert, can help to smooth life for former service members in other ways as well.

Every veteran is different in some small way, he said, but VA counselors “can, in many cases, break through any concerns or questions they may have, and help them connect with their benefits.”

He offered as example a student veteran using the Post-9/11 GI Bill who has not yet begun receiving a housing allowance or other benefits.

“[The counselor] can intercede directly on behalf of that veteran, and it works out very, very well,” Coy said. He added that the chance to consult an experienced VA vocational and rehabilitation counselor also offers student veterans a chance to learn about overall benefits they may be entitled to.

“The most important thing is to provide those student veterans with the tools they need to be successful in their academic environment … [and] meaningful employment as they move on,” Coy said.

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About Edited by Susan Bainbridge

At age 6, Susan was destined to be a journalist and photographer.  In 1980, Susan founded Bainbridge News and The Bainbridge Chronicle Newspaper. Bainbridge News specializes in Military and National Politics, including Military Funerals and Burials and Political Funerals and Burials.  Susan has covered the White House, the Pentagon and Capitol Hill. She has covered every president from Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama. Recognized for her versatility, Susan has also covered finance, crime, civil rights events, marches, sports, musical events and more. In 1990, she established Bainbridge Photography, an On-Location photography company. In addition to military and political events, including Military and Political funerals and burials, Bainbridge Photography expanded into covering ALL funerals and burials, receptions, weddings, real estate, inventory, insurance, portrait, head shot, pets, fire and Hazmat.  Miss Bainbridge believes in going the extra mile. "My Clients always come first." In 1980, Susan began her career in Washington, D.C., working for WMZQ Radio as a reporter and guest hostess from 1980 to 1985. Intrigued by radio, Susan wanted to write, freelancing for radio, television and print newspapers, including AP, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, The Northern Virginia Sun, The Press-Republican and The Bainbridge Chronicle (established by Susan Bainbridge). In 1986, Susan worked at WDCA-TV Channel 20 as a guest hostess for "Eye On Washington." From 1990 to 1994, Susan reported and anchored for "The Arlington Weekly News." Additionally, she produced a segment for the G. Gordon Liddy Radio Show. A prolific writer, while in high school in 1977, Bainbridge wrote an episode for NBC's "Little House on The Prairie" entitled "Laura's Best Friend." Though the show's producers did not use the script then, NBC producers encouraged Susan to pursue a writing and journalism career. Susan is a member of the National Press Club, the National Press Photographer's Association and the Society of Professional Journalists. Susan Bainbridge's recognitions include from former Presidents Ronald Reagan, George Herbert Walker Bush and Bill Clinton, former First Lady Nancy Reagan, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the late actor Lorne Greene, among many others. BAINBRIDGE NEWS was founded in 1980 by Susan Bainbridge (a sixth generation writer), a third generation journalist, a first generation photographer and a fourth generation entrepreneur. She is the first generation to establish a news business. Bainbridge News is dedicated in honor of Miss Bainbridge's late grandfather and idol, Mark S. Watson (The Baltimore Sun editor and war correspondent from 1920 to his death in 1966).

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