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Posts encouraged to reach out to SVA chapters

Posts encouraged to reach out to SVA chapters

The influx of veterans returning from overseas and heading to academic institutions faces a number of challenges, including filing benefits, navigating through VA’s education claims system and adjusting to life on campus.

Departments, posts and Legionnaires everywhere are well suited to help this new generation of students make their transition from service to school as seamless as possible, said Michael Dakduk, executive director of Student Veterans of America. With the ability to assist freshly separated veterans with benefits claims and typical veterans issues, Dakduk says Legionnaires and posts are ideal entities to reach out to student veterans and provide mentorship and the assistance of their post’s service officer.

"(Legionnaires) understand how to navigate the bureaucracies of the Department of Veterans Affairs," Dakduk said. "Legionnaires could provide some unique things to student veterans, especially through their service officers."

Legionnaires and posts can easily get involved with the student veteran population at nearby schools in their communities by locating and reaching out to the Student Veterans of America (SVA) chapter on campus. An official partner of The American Legion, SVA is a student veterans group that coordinates a coalition of military support "chapters" at college campuses in the United States and around the world. Veterans can congregate in SVA chapters at their schools for camaraderie, and for social and professional events.

An SVA chapter has its finger on the pulse of the veterans community at its host school and is always looking for assistance from Legionnaires and local posts, said Dakduk. In the past, posts have joined with chapters to help dedicate war memorials, assist with benefits claims and provide general mentorship.

SVA chapters can be located using the Chapter Locator on SVA’s website.

"I can remember different Legion posts in my community were very helpful with initiatives I was working on when I was on campus," said Dakduk, a recent graduate of UNLV.

Posts and departments also are well-positioned to provide financial assistance to the student veteran population at a local school. The Department of Iowa recently donated $1,000 to Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, for an interactive, multimedia touch-screen display on campus that honors previous and current veterans from the school.

Pacific Palisades Post 283 also recently donated $10,000 to help the veterans resource center at Santa Monica College keep its doors open. Administrators used the donation to hire an extra academic counselor. Before bringing in the additional counselor, veterans sometimes had to wait up to two hours to receive counseling.

"Legion posts have a reputation of being very giving financially for community-based initiatives, whether it’s for a monument on campus or for giving of emergency financial aid," said Dakduk.

Dakduk says that ultimately there is a perceived divide between veterans of previous eras and veterans of current wars. But it’s a false perception that doesn’t and shouldn’t exist, as older veterans like Legionnaires are exactly the kind of mentors student veterans could use.

"Legionnaires have already gone through the process of reintegrating back into society," Dakduk said. "They understand the challenges that this newest generation faces. They’ve been through it."

More in Veterans Education Center

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October 25, 2012 - 11:09am

Generally, I would tend to agree about veterans helping veterans usually does not get in the way of the willingness to work with each other, after all, that is the one thing that all veterans have most in common. But like it or not, there is a great chasm between veterans of older wars, and those of newer wars, because of the President's outright putting a wedge between these older and younger veterans, that the veterans themselves had/have absolutely no say in what has happened. And that is, that these new veterans have a much better education program (tuition, books,) and $650 more a month for their stipend, than the older veterans get, even though they faced a much higher rate of KIA's (over 50,000, and all wars since have not even hit 9,000). Not that that is a good thing, by no means, but to have a President and majority party in both houses that are from the same party, you tend to get the idea that there is still an awful lot of anti-war attitudes still out there. And I don't mean to suggest that combat veterans really enjoy all the bombs, rocket-propelled grenades, mortars, and machine-gun fire all the time, and can't seem to stay away from it, because it is so much fun. But, I do still feel that there is a great deal of hostility from a large part of our country, that think combat veterans should not get anything. After all, they are killers, right? My point is, that there should never be any type of group, or groups, that think there is a difference in the sacrifices that combat veterans willingly take upon themselves, and that we will all carry these memories for the rest of our lives. So I ask again, what is the difference in the sacrifices made by ALL combat veterans, that would account for the disparity, and in the differences in the compensation for those who can no longer compete, or be physically able, or even psychologically able to run a marathon, any better than telling a one-legged soldier to make do with what he has, so get running, and quit complaining. Remember, justice delayed, is justice denied.

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