VA Representatives visit USS New Orleans, Discuss Education Benefits with Crew
USS NEW ORLEANS, At sea - Representatives from the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) visited the amphibious transport dock ship USS New Orleans (LPD 18) May 10, to talk with Sailors and embarked Marines about educational benefits for separating service members.
Beth Juachon, a San Diego-area VA rep, talked about the Montgomery GI Bill and the Post 9/11 GI Bill with separating service members, as well as provided information on tuition assistance (TA) benefits for service members continuing their active duty service.
"I'm making sure everyone from the green side and blue side gets all the information about what they're entitled to for serving our country," said Juachon. "If I don't go and let people know about their entitlements, then incorrect information goes around."
Juachon also stressed the importance of Sailors and Marines knowing how to differentiate between the Montgomery GI Bill and Post 9/11 GI Bill. She also spoke about the various differences between each entitlement.
"People are beginning to use more and more of their GI Bill benefits, and this is one of the more confusing things for our service members," said Juachon. "It was recently changed in October with regards to schools you can go to and transfer of benefits."
Juachon also talked about the recent changes to the TA program.
"Before, with TA you could get certification programs, but now it's getting more strict and now you can only use it toward a degree-granting program," said Juachon. "We want to make sure whether they're still on active duty or they're getting out, they need to know their benefits."
Sailors and Marines said they are fortunate to have the opportunity to speak with a VA representative.
"Any time we can have someone come out here and make me aware of what forms to fill out, and teach me how to get the most of my benefits, it's a great thing," said Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Vicente Viloria, who is scheduled to separate from active duty at the end of the current deployment. "It's very important to me, because I want to go to school, and once I graduate I want to get a job from my schooling."
In addition to speaking with Sailors and Marines about educational benefits, Juachon will also be hosting a transition assistance program class for Sailors and Marines separating at the end of deployment.
USS New Orleans is part of the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group that is currently deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations.