Military Veterans Face Challenge of Going from Combat to Campus

Michael Dakduk served in the Marine Corps from 2004 to 2008, and had tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan. He used his GI Bill benefits to complete his education, graduating with a B.A. in public policy and administration from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

“Initially, the transition [to college] was difficult,” said Dakduk. “I had been removed from an academic setting for several years and had multiple combat deployments. This made for some long nights of studying and remedial courses to get back up to speed in writing and mathematics. Beyond the academics, integrating into a college environment was vastly different than being in a wartime military.”

Now, he is executive director of the Student Veterans of America, an organization in Washington, D.C. that “provides military veterans with the resources, support and advocacy needed to succeed in higher education.”

He was able to use both the Post-9/11 GI Bill, which provides up to 36 months financial support for education and housing to honorably discharged veterans who have served 90 days after Sept. 10, 2001, or those discharged with a service-related disability, and the Montgomery GI Bill, which offers education benefits for servicemen and women who were enlisted in the armed forces and had active duty after June 1985.

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, the VA has paid more than $23.6 billion in Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to more than 860,000 veterans, service members and dependents since mid-2009. The VA received more than 470,000 fall 2012 enrollments for Post-9/11 GI Bill use, which was a 12 percent increase in Post-9/11 GI Bill program use, compared to October 2011. In fiscal year 2012, Post-9/11 GI Bill beneficiaries were enrolled in 3,630 institutions. <Read more.>

Via Clarence V. Reynolds, Diverse Issues in Higher Education.