By June Olsen, Accredited Online Colleges

Veterans who return to civilian life often have a difficult
transition; after serving in the military and adjusting to rigorous discipline
and structure, it can be overwhelming to return home only to find that life
isn’t the same as when they left. Often, this can lead to depression or
feelings of aimlessness, particularly if the returning veteran finds him- or
herself unemployed, an outcome that is becoming more common in the United
States’ current poor economy.

Fortunately, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs provides
health care, counseling, and for returning veterans. Additionally, Veterans
Affairs provides programs to help returning veterans transition to civilian
life. Injured veterans have access to the Vocational Rehabilitation and
Employment Program, while all veterans have access to the GI Bill, which
provides funding for returning veterans to go to their choice of colleges online or on a
physical campus.

The advantages of going to college within a few years of
returning from service are several: first, in an economy where many U.S.
citizens don’t have a job, the problem of joblessness is particularly acute for
those without a college education. Therefore, getting a degree can help make
finding later work that much easier. Second, for veterans who feel they lack
structure in their life, taking courses can provide some structure and
direction (albeit not nearly at the level found in the military). And, third,
adjusting to civilian life means re-adjusting to a social life. A campus
environment can help veterans do this.
Therefore, many veterans choose to avail themselves of the
GI Bill, which provides up to one hundred percent tuition reimbursement for
veterans attending college. The program is fairly straightforward: any
qualifying veteran who applies to a qualified program will get reimbursed for
most (or all) of his or her college expenses. Simply visit the Veterans Affairs website on the GI Bill to
see what programs qualify and for how much you qualify.

When considering programs, there are some important things
to keep in mind: in-state programs are reimbursed to their full cost (up to the
percentage of reimbursement for which the veteran is eligible), while private
or out-of-state programs have a reimbursement cap at $17,500 per year. A final
consideration is for veterans to carefully plan their college tenures; the GI
Bill will only cover four years of schooling, so any additional education
veterans take on must be covered by their own funds.

In sum, transition to civilian life is important, as is
choosing a college or educational program that allows for personal and career
growth. Therefore, it may be worthwhile to work with career counselors or for a
veteran to otherwise seriously consider what he or she wants to do with his or
her post-military life before he or she makes use of the opportunity to attend
college.
June recently graduated with a degree in educational
psychology. She currently works as a writer on all things education and is
always interested in connecting with bloggers online.