Anyone receiving college military benefits knows the drill. Contact the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and wait. Then the paperwork starts to pour in. It’s a relay race with excruciating wait times at every turn–and registering for classes is impossible until every paper clears. Determining which forms of VA benefits one is eligible for and receiving them is a frustrating and complicated process.
FSCJ maintains an excellent VA facility at Downtown Campus, but campuses nearer to Mayport and NAS Jacksonville–where many active duty, veterans and qualifying dependents live and work–have only a small network of representatives available to them.
This is where VetSuccess AmeriCorps, funded by Volunteer Florida and managed by Communities and Schools in Jacksonville comes in. The group set up shop at Kent Campus and South Campus about two weeks ago. The program focuses on hiring veterans, so benefit recipients can be assured that they’ll be dealing with someone who understands the experiences of being in the military.
“We don’t want any veteran that comes to school here walking away thinking that they missed out on an opportunity because they didn’t know…or somebody to slip through the cracks because they didn’t have the information available to them,” said JD Hollingsworth, a VetSuccess AmeriCorps staff member and Marine veteran who’s been on multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The group is available for far more than just matching up benefits with individuals. They’re offering to help veterans and other beneficiaries register for school, sign up for classes, submit referrals and locate veteran-specific volunteering and fellowship opportunities.
Ultimately, the group wants to establish a network of veterans to take care of a variety of needs. “…whether it be ‘hey, I need to move on this day’ or ‘I have this I need to do,’ we can come together with all our resources and figure it out for each other,” said Hollingsworth.
So, regardless of which base the flag is being saluted on, come meet one of the program members and let them help make going to college that much easier.
More information about VetSuccess AmeriCorps can be found here.