Editor’s Note: This story also received assistance from News Editor Olivia Pastrick and Editorial Assistant Arrianna Gupton.
Across the United States, many Americans will be observing Veterans Day this week, and it is no different at the University of Indianapolis. According to UIndy Head of Veteran Affairs Kathy Elliot, there are currently at least 63 students who are veterans on campus, but this number could be a lot higher as veterans could just not be using their benefits. She said the current number of veterans is about half of the number that have been enrolled in previous years. Elliot stated that the enrollment process for veterans is the same as for regular students except that, once admitted, the Admissions Office refers veteran students to her in order to begin receiving their benefits.
There are resources available to veterans including the Post-9/11 GI Bill, also known as Chapter 33, Elliot said. Chapter 33 includes anyone who served for at least 36 months after 9/11, Elliot said these benefits can be used by spouses and other dependents. She explained that the eligibility is based on how much time they served and that if a veteran is 100% eligible, the VA pays for 100% of tuition and fees. Elliot stated that Chapter 33 is not the only benefit that the university accepts.
The VA also accepts Chapter 1606, which is a benefit for the National Guard and Army Reserve that goes directly to the student as a monthly allowance, she said, which can go toward tuition and fees. In addition to this, according to Elliot, the school also accepts Veteran Readiness and Employment benefits. Freshman engineering major T.J. Berchtold said Veteran Affairs was very helpful to him in providing assistance in the transition in going from the military to UIndy.
“When I applied, they gave me a lot of scholarships, and I appreciate that,” Berchtold said. “They’ve been very nice towards me being a vet and facing the things that I’m facing currently.”
First-year graduate student in the psychology program Michael Chambers said being in the military shaped how he approaches and how he sets goals as well as his general attitude toward attending UIndy. He said his experience in the military helped him frame his time at UIndy through a lens of gratitude.
“I try not to take things for granted,” Chambers said. “The fact that I’m sitting in a classroom, rather than being, you know, out in the field doing a training exercise or deployed to a combat zone or something like that.”
Chambers said it is easy for people to think all veterans are in combat-related jobs, which is not true. He said it can be difficult for veterans to know how to respond when people thank them for their service because service means something different to everyone who was in the military.
“Understand that there’s nothing necessarily frightening or scary about thanking a veteran,” Chambers said. “So if that’s something that someone feels inclined to do, especially as we get closer to Veterans Day, just understand that we’re just people like everyone else. We’re no different from you.”