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VA benefits advisers offer transition assistance

Miguel Boschulte, VA benefit adviser, talks to Soldiers about the different programs that can assist them during a class at the education center Feb. 1. (Photo by Nathan Pfau)

Miguel Boschulte, VA benefit adviser, talks to Soldiers about the different programs that can assist them during a class at the education center Feb. 1. (Photo by Nathan Pfau)

Published: February 4, 2016

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (Feb. 4, 2016) -- Transitioning out of the military can be a stressful time for not only Soldiers, but family members, as well, and that’s where a helping hand can come in handy.

And a helping hand is available in the form of benefit advisers for the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs who stand ready to assist Soldiers and families transitioning back into civilian life, according to Miguel Boschulte, VA benefit adviser.

“We exist to help (Soldiers) understand all of the VA benefits that are available (for them) to receive once they separate or retire,” he said. “We also try to push home the use of all of the available resources where they can find that information.”

The benefit advisers conduct the VA Benefits I and II briefings, which are mandatory for all separating service members, as well as conduct the Career Technical Training Track. Through these courses, Soldiers are able to learn what benefits will be available to them upon separation, including employment services to education, said Liz Legieza, VA benefit adviser and site lead.

“Continuing their education is just one of the things we will advise them on,” she said. “They will learn how to utilize their Montgomery or Post-9/11 GI Bill for either them or their dependents, and our program has a huge emphasis on employment.”

Advisers can also provide individual assistance on eligibility requirements and application processes for disability compensation, healthcare, home loans, insurance, counseling, pensions and more.

Even if a Soldier is moving away after separation, advisers can link them up with other advisers in different parts of the country, said Legieza.

“We have more than 300 advisers stationed at more than 280 military installations around the world,” she said. “We can also link them up to the Disabled American Veterans, American Veterans and Vets, or veteran service officers and their counties.”

“When separating, especially after a long military career, transitioning back to civilian life can be difficult,” added Boschulte. “That’s where we come in to provide a personal touch to that.”

Nearly all VA benefit advisers are veterans or military spouses, including Legieza and Boschulte, so they are familiar with the unique needs of service members and the challenges they face when transitioning out of the military.

“It makes me so happy and satisfied to be able to provide this service to people,” said Boschulte. “I retired in 2010 and the program was nothing like it is now. It’s such an honor to be able to relay that to the service members that I work with and be able to give that information. It’s just really rewarding.

“We all need help sometimes, and the only way to make your situation better is to reach out and get that assistance,” he continued. “Stop in and ask that question. We like to go out and do some local outreach and go to people because we don’t expect people to come flock to us, but at the same time, they’ve got to take that step and ask somebody.”

Although Soldiers get almost all the information they need in the benefits briefings, Legieza and Boschulte said they understand that all of the information can be overwhelming, and that’s why they offer individual sessions.

“After the class, since it can be so overwhelming, we encourage them to come in and talk with us,” said Legieza. “We not only help them with education benefits online, but we can help them with disability, applying for home loans, and we work really well with the education center to help them get on the right career track.”

The Career Technical Training Track is another course offered by the benefit advisers, which is a two-day course that shows service members what options they might have in a career field after the military.

“If they’re a military police officer in the military, and when they transition out, they might not want to be a police officer, but they might want to work in the same field,” said Boschulte. “What I do is give them the resources, and go through a career scope and see what their interests are, because, in the long run, we all want to wake up in the morning and be happy about getting up and going to work.”

The course also helps them to look and see if their career options are viable.

“At the end of the day, they have a plan on what they want to do in their career, whether it’s going to school to continue their education, getting out and doing what they were doing in the military, or something different,” he said. “It gives them a broader scope of things in terms of their career – it takes their blinders off.”

For more information, visit Bldg. 5402, Rm. 203, or call 255-1868 or 255-2085.

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