By Kevin Gaddie, Team Eglin Public Affairs
/ Published August 20, 2019
Andrew Ulsh, Veterans Affairs benefits advisor, talks with Tech. Sgt. Michael Makela, an Airman and Family Readiness Center readiness NCO, about VA education benefits Aug. 19 at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. A VA education benefits class is held monthly at the A&FRC to inform active duty service members, dependents and veterans about the benefits available to them. (U.S. Air Force photo/Kevin Gaddie)
A Veterans Affairs education benefits class was held at the Airman and Family Readiness Center Aug. 14 for active duty service members, dependents and veterans.
Topics included: the Post 9-11 GI Bill, college tuition, books and supplies, housing allowance; payment options; home loans and the VA benefits application process.
“We want to inform active duty service members about the benefits available to them early in their careers, rather than later,” said Andrew Ulsh, VA benefits advisor. “They’ll find the benefits can be worth a lot to them.”
Private 2nd Class Kernaisha Gaines, 6th Ranger Battalion, will leave the Army after a two-year enlistment and is using the benefits in earning a nursing degree. She said the GI Comparison Tool, where VA benefits are compared among colleges, was the most interesting part of the class.
“I liked the way the education money was broken down,” said Gaines, 23. “The GI Bill will help me get a home, start a family and reduce my student debt significantly.”
Ulsh said many service members don’t take advantage of or know about their VA benefits. More than 50 percent of eligible people don’t use their GI Bill, he added.
Ulsh encourages eligible personnel to use their benefits now, rather than wait until they leave the military.
Tech. Sgt. Michael Makela, an A&FRC readiness NCO, will pursue a bachelor’s degree in marketing and then a master’s degree in business administration.
The 13–year veteran said a college degree will make him more competitive for advancement and improve his chances for a good paying job once he leaves the military.
“Without the VA education benefits, a degree wouldn’t be in my purview,” he said. “All service members should use them.”
The VA education benefits class is now held monthly.
The VA Benefits Advisors Office is located in the Education Center, Bldg. 251, Room 111. Hours of operation are Monday – Friday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Patrons can schedule an appointment or walk in. For more information, call 882-1959.