If you’re a Veteran, Service Member, or Veterans’ Dependent, you’re likely familiar with the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. The VA website offers a wealth of information across a range of topics, including education benefits. Because the decision to attend college and select a career path can be overwhelming, the VA created programs to promote the favorable educational and vocational outcomes of Veterans, like the VetSuccess on Campus Program.
To help clarify how the VetSuccess on Campus program can assist in the transition to college life, we spoke with the Director of the University of South Florida’s Office of Veteran Success, Larry Braue, Ed.D., US Army (Ret.). Below is a Q&A with Braue regarding the mission of the program and tips for how Veterans can benefit from utilizing VSOC services.
Q: What is the VetSuccess on Campus program?
Braue: VetSuccess on Campus is a VA program that provides counseling and outreach to student Veterans, Service Members, and Veterans’ Dependents to assist them with reaching their educational and career goals. The program can provide educational, career, adjustment, and vocational rehabilitation counseling. Additionally, the VSOC counselor can assist with benefits information and choosing the best benefit to reach the student Veterans’ goals.
Q: The VetSuccess on Campus program is currently offered at more than 100 schools. Why did the program originate at University of South Florida?
Braue: The program started under the direction of the former Director of Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Services, Ruth Fanning, in 2009 in preparation for the new Post-9/11 GI Bill. The VA contacted the University of South Florida to host the first pilot site for VSOC due to the university’s large Veteran population and proximity to the VA Regional Office and VA Hospital and Polytrauma site. Currently, we have an amazing VetSuccess Counselor by the name of Jeanine Frederick. She has been on site for nearly 10 years and she has had an amazing impact on the success of our students.
Q: Who is eligible to take advantage of the VetSuccess program? How long does eligibility last?
Braue: VSOC provides services to Veteran students and prospective students of USF that are preparing for discharge within 6 months or post-discharge within 12 months, or who are currently using a VA education benefit, or have a VA service connected disability rating. The eligibility lasts as long as one of these criteria is met.
Q: What are some obstacles veterans face when transitioning to student life?
Braue: Veterans are faced with making decisions about their futures, where they are going to settle down, how to get a job in the civilian market, choosing a career or educational path, balancing school/work with a family, and for some, managing their health and disabilities.
Q: How do the VetSuccess counselors assist veterans in adjusting to an academic environment? Which issues do they address?
Braue: VSOC counselors assist Veterans with counseling and resources to help Veterans with their adjustment to the academic environment. The program started our Vet-to-Vet Tutor program in 2013 which provides one-on-one tutoring; student Veteran tutor to a student Veteran tutee. VSOC counselors also help to identify students who have disabilities or need classroom/campus accommodations. They also make referrals for on-campus services such as Academic Enhancement, Employment/Career, Students with Disabilities, and Counseling offices.
Q: Is there a piece of advice you would give to a veteran considering going back to school?
Braue: Apply for Chapter 36, Educational and Vocational Counseling. There is no better way to start your educational program knowing you have made the best choice of major, benefit, and career direction. CH 36 can provide the Veteran with a career assessment of his/her interests, aptitudes, and abilities and then helps the individual pick a career that matches those interests and aptitudes. The VSOC counselor shows the Veteran how to get additional information about the career such as the type of training or license that is required, tasks involved in the job, and labor market demands. Making an informed choice before beginning school, will save the Veteran time, money, and potential frustration with obtaining the right training for the career they desire.
Looking for a school that supports the VetSuccess on Campus program near you? Visit the VA website for a complete list of VSOC locations and counselor contact information.
Need help getting started on your path back to school? Try using our College Search Tool, where you can search by major, location, or keyword to find the best fit for you.