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Scholarship Programs Available to Veterans Other Than GI Bill

More than 40 percent of all GI Bill eligible veterans miss out on using their benefits. In most cases it’s simply because time has ran out before the veterans had an opportunity to use it. The good news is that there are hundreds of programs to help veterans get a college degree and the GI Bill isn’t their only option.

Federal student aid programs are available for regular citizens as well as veterans who want to go to college. If you are a veteran applying for student aid, your interest rates are capped due to the Service Members Civil Relief Act. This means that you are not subject to the same interest rates; which are normally higher, as regular people applying for student loans.

There are also state veteran benefits available for former armed service personnel as well. These benefits vary from state to state and are aimed at providing financial support to veterans who plan to attend college.

Scholarships for veterans are plentiful and designed to encourage and support them in being able to obtain a college education. These are supported by both private and public funds and requirements and reward amounts depend on the actual scholarship program.

Many of these scholarships are national while others are private offerings through specific Colleges and Universities. If you are a veteran and looking to attend college, it would be a good idea to contact that school directly and see if they offer any scholarships for veterans at their institution. This may be a deal breaker for a veteran looking to go to college and rightfully so. It does not make sense to attend a college or university that offers absolutely no scholarship programs for veterans when there are plenty of other schools that do. In this scenario, it simply makes better financial sense to go to the school that gives you the most options in terms of monetary aid.

Ultimately, if you are a veteran planning on attending college and the GI Bill is no longer an option for you, there are plenty of replacements available that may be worth pursuing. National scholarships like the ones offered by the Pat Tillman Foundation can provide as a substitute or replacement for what originally would have been a GI Bill college sponsorship.

You can also focus your college search on Universities that offer their own scholarships designed to help veterans. For example, Michigan State University offers a MSU Disabled Veterans Assistance Program designed to provide financial support for disabled veterans at their school.

If you chose to go the private funding route, you have protection in terms of the interest rates you can be charged if you are still active duty at the time you acquire the loan. If this is the case, you cannot be charged more than 36% APR on any loan you receive. Although this applies to active duty military only, it still applies to National Guard and Reserves. So if you’ve finished your primary service but still stay involved via those avenues, you have protection under the Military Lending Act.

Organizations that provide service dogs for veterans with PTSD

The mental health crisis within the veteran community is widely known and prevalent. Although there are many different organizations and services available to help soldiers suffering from PTSD or other mental health issues, some of these organizations have taken a different approach towards treatment. Therapy is provided in the form of companionship from service dogs and the results have been extremely positive.

One of these organizations is called Helping Paws. Their mission is to further people’s independence and quality of life through the use of assistance dogs.* Their dogs help people bound to wheelchairs or those whom have physical disabilities as well as individuals suffering from PTSD. Veterans can apply for a dog through this organization if they feel having a service dog will help them with their illness.

Another organization is America’s Vet Dogs. They specialize in providing dogs for the following areas:

  • Service
  • Hearing
  • Guide
  • PTSD
  • Seizure Response
  • Military Facility

Their PTSD service dog program is limited to veterans with combat-related PTSD and first-responders with work-related PTSD. Each applicant is analyzed and paired up with the best dog for them so that their bond becomes a strong one. There are classes involved if an application is accepted, along with primary training requirements, advanced training, and on-class training. Once the program is complete the dog and PTSD patient will go home together to begin their lives. Dogs at this stage will be trained to do everything from turning on lights, to performing nightmare interruptions, to helping the owner become comfortable in new and different situations.**

People with PTSD have psychological injuries affecting their ability to socialize and control their emotions. One way service dogs help with anxiety as a result of PTSD is through a “rest” command, which instructs the dog to come closer and press against their owner, or if the owner is sitting, to place their head on the owners lap. This action is very soothing in nature and can help eliminate PTSD symptoms very effectively.

Dogs are also trained to turn on light switches so owners don’t have to walk into dark rooms, and perform nightmare interruptions if they notice their owner is having a stressful event while they sleep. They can even sense bouts of depression and will stay by their owner’s side until the symptoms go away.***

It’s amazing to think that trained dogs can have such a profound impact on a veterans’ well being, but people suffering from PTSD are swearing by this treatment method claiming that it’s saved their lives. Many state that they feel their suicidal tendencies may have taken over had it not been for the involvement of the service dog. They were on a downward spiral with only one possible outcome; death.

If you have a friend or family member suffering from PTSD, reach out to one of the aforementioned companies and see if they can help. It may be the exact type of therapy your loved-one needs to achieve recovery and the capability to live a normal life.

New York Resources to Help Veterans Find Jobs

New York City Department of Veterans’ Services offers various resources to veterans looking for employment. These resources aid in the recruitment and preparation of a veteran for a potential position while also offering additional benefits to help veteran’s transition from life in the military to everyday life outside of it. Everyday there are businesses looking to hire veterans for specific job opportunities and the Department of Veterans’ Services in conjunction with Workforce 1 are working together in order to make those opportunities more visible and available to potential veteran candidates.

Workforce 1 provides a veteran’s resource guide with lots of information for veterans looking for work. It outlines various important documents a veteran should make sure they have when applying for a job, as well as education and training opportunities, career exploration and job searching, benefits, and other supportive services.*

The New York City Department of Veterans Services also has numerous recruitment events available to veterans. These events can be searched for according to type of Job, Location, and Date. It is recommended that you register and become a member of Workforce 1 if you plan to attend these recruitment events.**

The New York State Division of Veterans’ Affairs is also a great resource for veterans looking for jobs. Their website https://veterans.ny.gov provides information in reference to Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Programs for veterans’ that may have service-connected disabilities and are looking for work. The program is designed to not only help veterans’ find work, but to offer services to improve their ability to live as independently as possible should their disability be severe enough to not allow them to immediately consider employment.

Some of the program services include:***

  • Comprehensive rehabilitation evaluations
  • Vocational counseling
  • Employment services
  • Job search assistance
  • On the job training
  • Post-secondary training at a college, vocational or tech/business school
  • Supportive rehabilitation services
  • Independent living services

If you are a veteran; disabled or otherwise, looking for work, New York has plenty of services and organizations available to help you not only find a job, but help you with the overall transition from active duty military life to the life of an average American citizen. Many of the services available understand the importance of both physical and mental evaluations to aid in job placement rather than simply finding a job and inserting the first available candidate. The goals of these organizations is to offer long term legitimate solutions for job seeking veterans so that they may live prolonged and fulfilled lives.

In conclusion, New York makes the resources available to help veterans in their job search, but it is ultimately up to the individual to seek this guidance and have a desire to change their life for the better. These organizations are present with open arms but will not force a veteran to take action. That decision needs to be made internally, and once that happens, change can begin and resources are available for the support and aid in helping the veterans’ job search success.

How Cannabis Helps Veterans Treat PTSD

Cannabis is now being considered as an excellent herb with amazing medicinal benefits within the United States. Many studies have been conducted to figure out the therapeutic advantages of this herb as well. From those studies, researchers have concluded that marijuana is in a position to help veterans get rid of PTSD.

PTSD, which is also known as post-traumatic stress disorder, is an anxiety condition, which can take place as a result of severe episodes that person experiences. Veterans are more vulnerable to getting PTSD because of the traumatic and life-threatened situations they have experienced. This fact has been verified from statistical figures as well.

Veterans who find it as a difficult task to gain access to cannabis tend to get used to alcohol or other illicit substances because of PTSD. Veterans who are affected with PTSD feel helpless, and they get used to drugs, even if they have a clear understanding of the harmful side effects that are associated with them. However, cannabis is in a position to provide an effective treatment for PTSD, without subjecting the veterans to any harmful side effects.

A Washington cannabis dispensary, Clear Choice, quoted the lead physician at a veteran’s marijuana trauma center on the plant’s medicinal benefits. Dr. Michael Hart regularly treats veterans suffering from PTSD with cannabis.

“Cannabis can be an extremely effective treatment for PTSD. We’ve seen countless situations where patients had become dependent on opioids, alcohol or antianxiety medications and were seeing their symptoms worsen,” said Dr. Hart. “Cannabis, as an adjunct to other forms of therapy, can be highly effective and relatively safe. But, to achieve the highest potential for success, it’s critical for patients to supplement treatment with regular exercise program and healthy dietary changes.”

Cannabis can reduce the occurrence of PTSD along with anandamide levels. In the human body, anandamide is responsible for activating the receptors, which can get activated through phytocannabinoids. The cause of PTSD is endocannabinoid deficiency. When you are affected with PTSD, your body is not in a position to produce enough amounts of endocannabinoids to activate the innate receptors, which are linked to the regulation of flashback memories, mood perceptions, digestion, metabolism, and behaviors. That’s where cannabis can assist you. Bonds linked to the respective receptors are in a position to relieve PTSD symptoms efficiently.

Studies find that standard CB 1 receptor signaling can deactivate traumatic memories of a person. As a result, the person would be provided with the chance of forgetting. However, endocannabinoid defects can give life to a skewed CB 1 signaling. As a result, a person will have to experience impaired fear extinction. The other health conditions that can take place as a result of skewed CB 1 signaling include chronic anxiety and memory consolidation, which are identified as hallmarks of PTSD. Therefore, it is imperative for the people to eliminate the endocannabinoid defect from the cause.

Cannabis is in a position to deliver positive results to any person, regardless of age or sex. Therefore, any veteran who is suffering from the adverse effects of PTSD can think about consuming medical cannabis without keeping any doubts in mind. You would love the results that are delivered to you from the consumption of marijuana in the long run.

Organizations Helping Veterans

The United States has many organizations that were created in order to help veterans adapt to normal daily life again. These organizations range from being geared towards specific wars, versus specific ailments suffered as a result of service, or just general groups related towards religion and gender. Below is a small sample of some of the organizations present today for veterans and a summary of their area of focus. A full list can be found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_veterans_organizations

  • Paralyzed Veterans of America – This veterans organization was founded in 1946 and focuses on veterans of the United States armed forces who have experienced some sort of spinal cord injury or dysfunction.*
  • Wounded Warrior Project – This organization offers a variety of programs, services and events for wounded veterans of the military. It was founded in 2003 by John Melia; a veteran who was wounded in a helicopter crash serving in Somalia in 1992. As of 2011, the organization has 147 employees and over 1600 volunteers.**
  • Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America – This organization was created in 1896 by Civil War veterans to prove that Jews have proudly served this country since the Revolutionary Era. It has an estimated 15,000 members ranging from WWII to current conflicts.***
  • Vietnam Veterans of America – The VVA is a national non-profit corporation founded in 1978. It is committed to serving all veterans, however is dedicated to Vietnam veterans and their families.****
  • Blinded Veterans Association – BVA is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping veterans and their families overcome blindness. Based on VA data, there are more than 158,000 veterans in America that suffer from severe vision impairment or blindness.*****

As you can see, there are organizations that focus on very specific sects of veterans and aim to provide awareness and services to those groups. Many focus on injured veterans, while others focus on veterans of a specific religious background or veterans of a specific war. Regardless, all organizations have a similar goal in mind; to help veterans in any way possible.

If you are interested in donating money to an organization or would like to volunteer, feel free to visit any of their websites where there will be information on how to contribute to their cause. Many are non-profit organizations and have received congressional charters under Title 36 of the United States Code. This essentially means that the organization is “officially” sanctioned by the U.S. Government.

If you chose to associate with any veteran’s association you are setting a good example for other American citizens, and helping show how veterans should be treated when returning home from service. Whether you are helping by making a donation or by volunteering your time, the organizations and veterans will greatly appreciate your contribution. Many of these organizations need all the help they can get in terms of funding and workers, so if a contribution is made, they will be extremely grateful, as will the veteran’s they are serving on a daily basis.

The next time you see a veteran, be sure to thank them. The sacrifices they’ve made to serve our country should not go forgotten or un-noticed.

How to Get More Veterans to Start More Businesses

It’s no secret that veterans have a harder time finding employment than the average civilian. Veteran’s unemployment rate is always higher than the national rate; however one fact that is interesting is that military veterans are almost twice as likely versus nonveterans to start their businesses. Despite veterans’ difficulty in gaining employment, they have a higher disposition towards entrepreneurship and carving their path.

One way to encourage former armed service personnel to start their own business is to inform them of the Small Business Administration’s programs developed to help veterans obtain loans. Veterans are exempt from borrower fees for a loan value up to $350,000.00 and for a loan of $350,000 to $5 million, the agency promises to pay half of the borrower fee if default should occur. Because of this, in 2014, the Office of Veterans Business Development was able to grant $768 million in lending for veterans looking to start their businesses.

As of 2014, there are more than 2.4 million businesses operated by veterans nationwide. This trend is growing, and to keep it headed in the right direction funding is going to be extremely necessary. Veterans should not only be encouraged to start their businesses but also be provided options regarding how to fund their operations. If unable to obtain a loan from the SBA, veterans can look into angel investment groups that support veteran entrepreneurship, venture capital funds that do the same, or online lending platforms. All of these can serve as a means to get the startup capital required for a veteran to start their business.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs also has a Veteran Entrepreneur Portal. This agency is a partnership with Business USA which allows veterans to access various resources, start and grow their businesses and access financing.

With the lack of demand for veterans in the workplace due to employer concerns with PTSD or other health issues, veterans are going to have to start creating their fate more regularly. Entrepreneurship should be encouraged while service men and women are active in the military and even prior to boot camp. Planting the thought in a veteran’s mind that starting a business may be a good idea once they are done with service should be something that the United States Military embraces and promotes.

Statistically, veterans are going to have a more difficult time finding regular employment than an average citizen, and it would be best to disclose these hurdles upfront to set realistic expectations for our former military. This education would allow them to mentally prepare for the task ahead and would also persuade them to start looking into other options, such as entrepreneurship.

If the goal is to get more veterans to start businesses, this behavior needs to be promoted from the very beginning of that individual’s life in the military. Business education needs to be incorporated into military training and programs designed to help veteran entrepreneurs need to be more heavily promoted once a member of our armed forces has completed their service.

Mental Health Help for Veterans

Mental Health problems are widely known amongst the veteran community. Many veterans deal with post-traumatic stress disorder, substance use disorder, depression, and suicidal tendencies. Acclimating to regular life outside of active duty military can sometimes be tough for many veterans, and anxiety along with other problems begin to build rapidly. That combined with behavior attributed to self-medication via alcohol or drugs is a recipe for disaster, and more needs to be done to help veterans that are stuck in this downward spiral.

Recent studies by the VA show that 20 veterans commit suicide each day nationwide. In 2014, more than 7,400 veterans took their lives, accounting for 18% of all suicides in America. What’s even more shocking is that veterans only make up 9% of the overall U.S. population. Researchers found that a veteran has a 21% greater chance to commit suicide than that of a regular adult civilian. This disparity is a very real problem within the veteran community, and the VA has taken steps to help change these disturbing trends.

The VA has hired 5,300 mental health providers and support staff to help with this problem. Suicide prevention lines have also been beefed up as a result.* Another way the VA is attempting to stop this epidemic is by implementing procedures early on to identify a veteran who may have a higher probability of committing suicide in his return to civilian life. Testing is done to see if the veteran is considered “high risk” for suicide and if so, treatment begins before any significant event occurs.

Civilians who may be interested in helping this cause can help by assisting with telephone coaching for families of veterans. Through the VA website, more information can be found on this program and materials can be requested if one has a desire to get more involved.

 

The biggest thing to keep in mind is the need to be proactive and to catch symptoms early if a veteran has a predisposition to suicidal thoughts or tendencies. If possible, it’s best to recognize and treat the problem, before it turns into something significant. If the problem isn’t caught early enough, it could be extremely detrimental to the veteran patient and correcting their behavior may be almost impossible.

If you are a veteran who is having mental issues or problems, take it upon yourself to seek help. There is no shame in calling the veterans crisis line www.veteranscrisisline.net and talking to someone about what’s on your mind. Sometimes only venting your thoughts and emotions can be incredibly relieving and beneficial.

You also may want to schedule a meeting with a VA counselor if you feel you are having a hard time adapting or adjusting to healthy society. The last thing you want to do is continue to ignore these thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and act as if everything is alright. Seek help immediately; you are not alone, and many veterans like you suffer from the same problems and mental illness.

Where Homeless Veterans can go for Help

It’s no secret that many veterans have trouble adapting to everyday life once they return home from service; however what’s astounding is some homeless veterans living on our streets today. An estimated 49,933 homeless veterans roam our streets, approximately 8.6 percent of the entire homeless population.*

So what can be done to combat this and how can we help?

All over the country, there are many support and volunteer groups aimed at bringing awareness and aid to the homeless veteran community. There are also federal programs which can provide assistance to homeless veterans such as the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. These two federal programs work together to provide favorable lending situations for veterans looking to buy a home; making it easier and cheaper for them to acquire a roof over their heads.

Veterans can also look into mental health programs sponsored by both local and federal governments. Things like post-traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse disorder go hand-in-hand with veteran homelessness and veterans difficulty adapting to society. Even if a veteran is provided with a home, these other issues need to be addressed otherwise they can end up back on the streets rather quickly.

The VA also introduced the Supportive Services for Veteran Families program which is aimed at working in conjunction with the Department of Housing and Urban Development to end homelessness among veterans. In its first two years, the program aided almost 100,000 individuals in over 61,000 households. It was reported that only 9.4 percent of veterans returned to homelessness after being housed their first year and 15.5 percent returned to homelessness after their second year of being housed. The program’s goal is to not only provide homes for these veterans and their families but also to provide a legitimate long-term solution to their homeless-behavioral habits.

The good news is that homeless numbers within the veteran population are decreasing. Local communities are making commitments to end homelessness within the veteran community, and in January 2015 New Orleans became the first major city to announce that it had ended veteran homelessness. The first lady received pledges from 355 mayors, seven governors, and 112 county and city officials to end veteran homelessness in their local communities.**

As homelessness within veterans continues to shrink, programs like the ones started by the federal government will continue to play a huge role. However, the solution to the problem will ultimately fall on the veterans’ shoulders. The desire to seek help and live a better life must be present within them. They may also need to address mental health issues in conjunction with their homelessness to see real success. It would be a shame for a veteran who took advantage of a government program like the ones mentioned above, only to return to homelessness a year or two later. Society needs to understand that this is a problem with many facets that need to be addressed and that homelessness was just the result of some other serious issues.

History of Veterans Day

Veterans Day is an important holiday in U.S. History. Although many Americans may confuse it with Memorial Day, Veterans Day has its unique reason for being celebrated as a United States Holiday. Veterans Day was originally known as Armistice Day and was originally set as a U.S. legal holiday to honor the end of World War I. The end of World War I took place on November 11th, 1918 and on November 11th, 1938 it was officially made a holiday in the United States.

The holiday was then amended on June 1st, 1954 and changed from “Armistice” day to “Veterans” day. The new holiday was meant to honor all American veterans of all wars, not just World War I. After this amendment, a push was made to try and have Veterans Day act as a holiday that ensured a three-day weekend, and the date was moved to the 4th Monday in October. Eventually, President Gerald Ford signed a law which returned Veterans Day to its original date of November 11th and it has to be celebrated on that day ever since.*

Memorial Day, on the other hand, is meant to honor and remember all soldiers who lost their lives in war fighting for the United States. It’s celebrated on the last Monday in May and provides a 3-day weekend for most Americans. Veterans Day focuses more on living men and women who have served the United States, while Memorial Day focuses on those who died.

Both holidays intend to show the importance of honoring our men and women of the United States Military and the sacrifices they’ve made for our country. If you are someone who appreciates this sacrifice and would like to give back somehow, various volunteer organizations help. Many veterans are disabled or out of work and need assistance adapting to normal daily life again.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is the primary government organization associated with providing veteran care and services in the United States. At any point in time, one can volunteer to work for this agency if they’d like to help veterans in any way possible. To date, over 140,000 volunteers gave more than 11 million hours in service to America’s Veterans.

There are also many other organizations with more specific causes that aim to help veterans who need assistance. Some of these organizations focus on particular wars, while others focus on gender or specific disabilities.

Veterans Day is something that should be celebrated by all Americans. These men and women fought for our country and made enormous sacrifices for our safety and way of life. Physically, many soldiers may have lost limbs or hearing/eyesight, while mentally many soldiers never fully recover from the brutality of war. These individuals should be acknowledged and given great respect for their service. Without them, the United States of America as we know it today would cease to exist, and the world would be a very different place. America’s influence across the entire globe is paramount, and our veterans are the reason behind America’s presence in the world as a superpower.