Collaboration to help veteran students obtain education benefits - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

Collaboration to help veteran students obtain education benefits


CHARLESTON (NEWS RELEASE) – Three West Virginia agencies have formally agreed to coordinate their work to improve outreach to veterans, military members, and their families about education programs and benefits.  Department of Veterans Assistance (WVDVA) Cabinet Secretary Rick Thompson, Higher Education Policy Commission (HEPC) Chancellor Paul Hill, and Community and Technical College System (CTCS) Chancellor James Skidmore today signed a Memorandum of Understanding to help ensure veteran students are aware of and have access to the education benefits they have earned.

The agreement confirms and formalizes ongoing efforts among the three agencies to help eligible West Virginians understand the education benefits offered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the state of West Virginia and the institutions in which students enroll. Currently, many qualifying individuals use only a portion of their benefits, while others utilize none.

"Due to the volunteer nature of our military and the sacrifices that our veterans and military personnel make for our state and this country, we must make it our duty to do everything in our power to ensure that they are supported in every way possible," said First Lady Joanne Jaeger Tomblin.  "As state leaders, this is a wonderful opportunity for us to support these individuals and their families by making it easier for them to receive quality education and training. As president of Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College, I look forward to welcoming more veterans to our campus."

Secretary Thompson said, "If it weren't for the GI Bill, which funded not only my Bachelor's Degree from Marshall University, but also my Law Degree from WVU, I would not be where I am today. Like many West Virginia veterans, I come from humble beginnings and, therefore, understand the impact these benefits can have on the lives of military families. I am extremely excited about this collaboration and the doors it will open for those who have served."

Chancellor Hill noted that West Virginia's veteran student population is increasing steadily and said,  "We need to be sure we are doing all we can do to help these students succeed, beginning with helping them understand how to access the benefits and then find a good education program to meet their needs.  With the help of WVDVA's field staff, we can bring that message to more students more effectively.  We look forward to working with WVDVA."

Chancellor Skidmore said, "This cooperative venture will benefit the many veterans and military members likely to choose our community colleges to further their education and training.  We see it as yet another way to open opportunities to those who think they simply can't pursue an education program.  This is a ‘win-win' for the state and its veterans."

Under the new agreement, HEPC's Office of Veterans Education and Training, which approves and monitors programs for the GI Bill, will provide regular training to WVDVA's staff, who speak directly with veterans every day.  The goal is for West Virginia veteran and military students to be well informed and better prepared to take full advantage of the educational opportunities available to them.

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