Free Stuff From VA – What Smart Veterans Do At Mid-Semester

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Free Stuff from VA

Free Stuff from VA

Veterans have been writing in about how to get free stuff from VA. While I won’t help you be a over the top with requesting free things, I will give you the strategy you need to get what you want.

The key to free stuff is to plan ahead while not pigging out on the benefits. While getting a free iPad or free MacBook Pro is nice, the VA is not like the ice cream man. You will need to think it through with a “free stuff strategy.”

Since strategy is necessary, you will need a plan. That’s right. Plan for free stuff. Odd concept I’m sure, but hear me out.

In about two weeks, the next term schedules will come out, and student veterans need to be ready.

You need to be ready to pounce on your favorite class before some zit-faced 20-year-old beats you to the punch. But there is more to this than zitty punks taking up all the good classes.

One thing most traditional students do not have to deal with is raising a family while in college. Another thing could be disabilities and emotional wounds from battle.

For many student veterans, we get to deal with all of those things plus school schedules, zitty punks, and tough professors who sometimes do not get it.

For that reason, it is vital that veterans plan out their semesters well in advance.

One factor student veterans tend to forget is figuring out how their school schedule could be impacted by their disabilities well in advance of class sign up.

If the class might impact your disability, or a computer program or tool would help you succeed, it is imperative to get the paperwork filed well in advance for the free tools through VA.

This is where VA Voc Rehab comes into play. Though, these issues are not strictly limited to Voc Rehab students. GI Bill students need to pay attention to what I’m about to say, since you could use both programs at the same time to get access to the free resources.

VA Voc Rehab has the ability to purchase all kinds of items for veterans to help us succeed. However, the list of these items and access to them can be like navigating through a maze with no GPS.

To fix this, I just wrote up VA Vocational Rehabilitation Freebies. Like the name, the guide is free to those who sign up for the newsletter, which is also free.

I did this because I got tired of hearing stories of veterans having a tough time getting access to what they need to succeed – especially since VA is required to provide us with everything we reasonably need to do well.

Student veterans like you write in a lot about how a VA Voc Rehab counselor failed to get them their computer in time. Or, they will write in about not getting some other piece of equipment or software that is vital for success.

As a result, the veteran got very flustered during the term and got poor grades or dropped out. Sadly, these stories are too numerous to count, and the impact of the frustration will last for the remainder of that persons life in the form of bad grades or no degree at all.

Sometimes these issues have to do with a VA counselor not wanting to do his job filling out request paperwork than anything else. Other times, the counselor and veteran are too slow in getting the paperwork through.

If you are alive in America today, you can probably assume why it is important to plan ahead for these kinds of road bumps. Let’s look at what would happen if you waited until school starts to get a computer.

Attending college today requires a computer for the most part. You need to use it for word processing. You need to use it for taking notes. You need it for research. Most colleges use intranet bulletin boards for assignment turn-ins and assigned readings.

Thus, it is vital to have a computer. But waiting for VA to get off its duff to get you a computer may be like watching glaciers melt. It is a slow process.

I write this post to help prompt you to also consider the importance of thinking ahead, if you are in college or thinking about starting up school.

I recall how easy life was in the military when it came to deploying. You just need to pick up your bag and go. The logistics teams all sorted out the details. But, the days of having an entire military logistics team to sort out the details for you is over.

It is time to think ahead when it comes to life planning, and even planning for the next term. This is especially true regarding equipment and scheduling.

While thinking about this the other day, I decided to write up a free eBook about freebies and planning how to get them.

This eBook tells you key strategies you can use to get the free stuff you need to succeed in college from VA with as little hassle as possible.

There will always be some degree of hassle. This guide will help keep the hassle manageable when getting free stuff from VA Voc Rehab.

So here’s the exchange. You sign up below to our newsletter and we send the guide to your email. It’s that easy.

Enter your name and email here and follow the instructions.

Veterans wanting something more robust, like a guide for applying to VA Voc Rehab or a guide on appealing a denial for that program, should check out our Voc Rehab Survival Guide for Veterans.

Send a note with any questions.

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5 Comments

  1. Ben,
    Thanks for this. I believe that most of the young vets coming to the college experience have no idea how good VocRehab can be or how frustrating. Knowing more about how it works can only be helpful to them.
    I recently graduated from Metropolitan State College (now University) of Denver thanks to four years of VocRehab. For what it’s worth, here are a couple of things I learned:
    Chapter 31 and its eligibility requirements need to be presented to vets as soon as they walk through the door of any VA facility for any reason. I would not have known about Ch. 31 if I had not been hanging out with some other vets between Upward Bound classes one night. (It may have been mentioned in the fine print of some piece of literature I received from the VA when I applied for my disability comp., but it made no impression on me.) I will always be grateful to that Navy vet who said, “You’re 100% and you haven’t used Ch. 31 yet?” Don’t remember his name. but that guy might have saved my life. He surely changed my life.
    Someone should let vets know that they don’t need to be overly concerned about the VAs insistence that, as one VA rep (Mr. S) told me, Ch. 31 is a “VocRehab program, not an Education program.”
    Most importantly, the success or failure of this program depends largely on the quality of service provided by the individual VA education rep. When I enrolled at Metro, one of the first things I did was meet with Ms. J, the rep to whom I was assigned. For two years after that I felt as though I were being treated like a human being. Ms. J made sure that my tuition and book fees were paid on time. All I had to do was fill out some simple paperwork, go to class and get my course work done on time. When I went to the bookstore, there were no questions after I showed my ID. And there was no charge.
    After two years, Ms. J was re-assigned to the Colo. Springs office to help with a backlog of new students. I was re-assigned to another rep, Mr. S. Within a few months I was seriously considering quitting school. I was asked to fill out a whole new series of reports and to complete forms I had never seen before (or had filled out a dozen times already.) I had to report to Mr. S’s office as though I were a parolee. He made me feel that I was trying to steal the benefits that my country had promised me at the time I was inducted. (If I haven’t mentioned it, I am a Viet Nam vet and was 58 when I enrolled at Metro State.) Just as I was beginning to consider abandoning my dream of getting a college degree, I found that Ms. J had been re-assigned to Denver. With her encouragement and assistance I was able to graduate Magna Cum Laude and to procure my TESOL certificate under Ch. 31.
    Anything that can be done to simplify the process by which veterans claim and use their benefits needs to be seen by the VA as a positive outcome. Going back to school is difficult enough on its own without another whole layer of bureaucracy for vets to wade through. Once eligibility and academic requirements have been met, veterans should be able to choose their fields of study and follow them to a conclusion that is successful on their own terms, not those of a DVA hack.
    Anyway, in the time I was at Metro St., I did not submit a claim for a computer (I already had a nice Macintosh laptop), but I understand that many new students do, in fact, require a decent computer in order to pursue their studies, and this should be routinely covered under Ch. 31. If the VAs Vocational Rehabilitation program is to have any positive effect, it must insure that all veteran students be properly equipped to achieve their goals. If your site and e-book (and dedicated VA counselors) can help young vets navigate the daunting maze of college enrollment and study, then this is a worthwhile effort. Again, thank you.

    Frank Bessinger

  2. Hello Ben,

    This information is very helpful and I wish all vets getting out of the military were told how great this program can be. I didn’t know about it until a few months prior to running out of the Post 9/11 GI Bill. I was sitting in the lobby at a VA appt and saw a flyer on it. Reading it didn’t help me understand the program so I talked to a VA counselor who explained the benefits of it.

    I only had 1 year left in my bachelor of science / RN program was thinking I would have to drop out before getting accepted into the Voc Rehab Ch 31 program. This is the second quarter I have been enrolled but I have been having a lot of problems. My school has not been paid one cent! They are actually talking about dropping me from the program (I only have 7 months left b/f graduation). I don’t know what to do. The school and I have emailed and called my rep but we only get they are behind if we even get a reply. I have been receiving my housing allowance and books but the school getting paid is most important.

    Do you know of anything I can do to find out what the problem is? I am desperate and feeling extremely anxious about being dropped from my program.

    ~Sabrina La Chapelle

  3. Ben,
    I graduated in May of 2015 with a Masters in Social Work thanks to VocRehab. I currently work assisting veterans with housing issues and other case management issues. My experience with my voc.rehab. counselor was a positive one all the way through. I did not need a computer during my schooling. However if I am working with a veteran who is in school I want to be able to help that veteran in any way I can. If helping him/her get a computer will make the veteran’s life easier, then I want to do that. For me, and my hearing loss due to 24 years in military aviation, the Smart Pen was an excellent tool that the VA provided. Thank you for putting this out in service to other veterans.
    Jim Lachman

  4. I began my program in 2010 and was given a laptop. I paused due to relocation. In 2014 the vocrehab folks took laptop and it was supposedly updated. It never worked afterwords without shutting down at any given momemt. I began my program May 2015 using my family’s computer and while I fault to get the old one fixed correctly, they finally sent paperwork for a new laptop. But with this purchase, they want me to sign some agreement that if I didn’t finish the program that I will have to pay the full price of computer.

    I do not recall signing any type of agreement before and have not found this information on any veteran websites. Is this legit? The local office have been reported to the VA OIG as well as the.VRE office getting involved just due to a host of problems. The supervisor can hold a conversation without her becoming threatening and beligerent.
    I want to see in a Department of VA policy that states this.

  5. I am veteran that had beat colon cancer in 2011 with being cut in half bag on my side and all and now two months ago I find out I have cancer in my mouth at this time I use my phone to talk to the va and others. But it’s so small I can’t see it good. If you no of a way I can get a laptop I would be thankful.

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