VA’s work study program gives student-Veterans the opportunity for hands-on work experience and a monthly part-time income while they are going back to school as part of the Post-9/11 GI Bill or other VA education benefit program.
As Executive Director of the Utah Department of Veterans Affairs, Terry Schow has hired and worked with dozens of student-Veterans over the past ten years. His work-study trainees have come from a variety of education institutions, including the University of Utah, Salt Lake City Community College, Weber State University and Utah Valley University; and have gone on to continue their service in the Veterans community through careers in the field including as public affairs officers for VA medical centers, with Veterans Service Organizations including Disabled American Veterans (DAV) and at VA’s Salt Lake City Regional Office.
Through Terry’s work-study opportunity, student-Veterans have the opportunity to learn all sides of the business while working with his staff – from direct outreach to Veterans through planning and attending outreach events to answering calls and letters from Veterans looking for more information on their VA and state Veterans benefits. One recent work-study participant was hired full time for the state agency after he designed and launched a Veterans database for the department.
Through the VA-work study program, Veterans who are three-quarter or full-time students in a college degree, vocational or professional program, can “earn while they learn” with a VA work-study allowance. Students with service-connected disabilities of 30% or greater are given priority consideration in the program. Work-study students perform work related to the VA, including at education institutions, VA facilities, DOD facilities and state Veterans agencies.
Why does Terry utilize VA’s work-study program to help hire student-Veterans? Because they ‘understand the mission’ of his office in the Utah State Department of Veterans Affairs and are comfortable working on a team.
“There’s camaraderie between Veterans,” which make them a key asset to the team, he says.
Samantha O’Neil is a communications specialist with the Veterans Benefits Administration.