Thursday, May 30, 2024

Gov. Edwards, LDVA say LaVetCorps Navigators Program a success in connecting student veterans to higher education opportunities

by BIZ Magazine

The Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs’ LaVetCorps navigators are serving nearly 10,000 student veterans and veteran dependents in higher education at institutions across Louisiana. The LaVetCorps Program, currently in its fourth year, provides student veteran leaders at 32 public and private college and university campuses with an ultimate goal of seeing veterans and their dependents graduate.

“When we started this program four years ago, we knew there was a need to connect our veterans with opportunities to help them transition back into civilian life by earning a degree that would ultimately lead to big benefits for themselves and their families,” said Gov. Edwards. “To date, it has helped thousands of service men and women, and I’m extremely proud of the work the LaVetCorps navigators are doing to help our deserving veterans take advantage of the benefits they have earned through their service to our state and nation. It’s important that we do all we can to support our veterans in achieving their educational aspirations from the admissions process to graduation, and that’s exactly what this program is doing.”

“At 22 years old, after my service in Vietnam, I decided to enroll at Hampton University to pursue my undergraduate degree,” said LDVA Secretary Joey Strickland, COL (USA Retired). “Vietnam veterans were not treated well, and I could not identify with the other students who were my age. I will always be thankful for the professors who were World War II veterans who took me under their wings, and that’s what our LaVetCorps navigators do too.”

LaVetCorps is a partnership between LDVA and AmeriCorps. Louisiana is a national leader in growing this program, and throughout the past four years has increased the number of institutions where our LaVetCorps navigators serve. Navigators are housed in campus student veteran centers where they foster a safe and welcoming environment for students, provide instruction to faculty and staff about student veterans and serve in the surrounding communities.

Before a student veteran or veteran dependent enrolls in school, LDVA’s veterans assistance counselors at parish veterans service offices across Louisiana connect that student with the state and/or federal educational benefits available to them including GI Bill and Title 29, among other benefits. LDVA’s State Approving Agency staff, who certify higher education institutions, work with school certifying officials to accept GI payments on behalf of student veterans and their dependents. Navigators also work with veterans assistance counselors during a student veteran’s academic career to file compensation and/or pension claims with the federal VA.

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