A Good Experience with VA Personnel

Today I learned of a Marine friend who is a new arrival at a new base as of this morning. He is at this new base for training, and it's an Army base. This Marine was told there was no housing available on base for him, no secure space to store his valuables, and to book a hotel room and rental car on his own dime (to be reimbursed, of course). All resources he tried to access told him that they couldn't help him because he was a Marine. He's given a per diem while training, but was not told his per diem amount. If he goes over his per diem amount, the excess amount would come out of his pay.

A few things before we move further into this story. First, this is not a new or uncommon phenomenon. It's scary and frustrating, but not new. Second, with the right people the military community can feel like a family. Regardless of branch, rank, or field, they are all in the same boat. Third, the VA has a bad reputation, and it's earned it. But, there are some great people involved in VA affairs.

As soon as I heard about this situation, I asked about what resources had already been utilized. I then emailed some of my contacts. First, I started with a (former) Marine, a Navy recruiter and his wife, a friend who is former Army, and my husband. I also reached out to a social worker (we'll call her Michelle) who is part of VITAL (Veterans Integration To Academic Leadership).

VITAL is about making sure all veterans, regardless of location, have support during the transition to higher education. She deals primarily with veterans (those no longer on active duty) who are attending, or trying to attend, an institution of higher education. So, Michelle has no reason to do anything other than direct me to the next person. That's what we all expect from VA people, right?

I sent the email to Michelle at 11:39am, at 11:41am Michelle responded that she will work on this and asked for more information on the Marine. At 12:05pm I had a person's name, phone number, and location on base for my friend to call.  Michelle even followed up with a phone call to me. Unfortunately, I was at lunch and then when I got back had things I needed to take care of. At 1:10pm, I called my friend to give him the contact information, Within the next few hours, the Marine had secured a place to stay for the evening and a place going forward.

We need more people who care, more people who are given the freedom to care, and more opportunities to show the good in people.

PS - I met Michelle because she attends my campus' Veterans Club Meetings and has served as a great advocate of student veterans to our campus administration. She also takes personal referrals and has built great relationships with some of our student veterans.

Comments

  1. Thank you for pointing out these cases, Chelsea! While it may seem like a common occurrence, it is still quite alarming how frequent it is to see our men and uniform being left like this, when they are supposed to have added benefits and care, much less housing. Even more so if they have just started, as they might not have any idea on how to deal with the situation. It’s great that everything got sorted out soon after, thanks to you and your friends and contacts. Cheers!

    Brad Post @ Jan Dils

    ReplyDelete

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