One year ago this week, I rushed to Bunker Hill Community College, in a last minute attempt to register for Fall classes. I’d finally decided on a new career to pursue.
After graduating from Emerson College in 2003, I distinctly remember saying on many occasions, that I would never go back to school. From my first meeting with the Marine recruiters in February ’05, I had planned on a career in the Marine Corps, up until I realized that dream was impossible. For months I struggled with the decision of which direction I wanted my life to go. Finally, in August of last year, I made my decision: I am going to be a nurse.
Since I didn’t take a single math or science course in my 4 years at Emerson (other than Psychology), I had to take quite a few prerequisites before I could work towards a Bachelor of Science degree. I started off with General Biology, Statistics, and College Algebra. Spring of this past year I took Anatomy & Physiology I, Chemistry, and Microbiology. Finally this summer, I took Anatomy & Physiology II, Food & Nutrition, and Psychology of Human Growth & Development.
Just stumbled onto a relatively new site called Our Marines. The site attempts to better connect America with the Marine Corps, and features the blogs of 6 candidates at PLC (Platoon Leaders Class). Though there isn’t much content, it’s a cool idea and has lots of potential. Check it out.
Back on July 2nd, I applied for education benefits from the VA. My application was received by the Buffalo New York processing office on July 13th, and I was told it would take about 4-6 weeks to get a response. Sure enough, 6 weeks after they received my application, I got a letter from the VA. It stated:
You’re entitled to receive 100% of the benefits payable under the Post-9/11 GI Bill program for training offered by an institution of higher education. We determined this percentage based on your length of creditable active duty service.
Awesome! With the new Post-9/11 GI Bill, you are awarded education benefits based on your length of active duty or reserve service. You will be given:
Cost of tuition and fees, not to exceed the most expensive in-state undergraduate tuition at a public institution of higher education (list of states and max tuition)
Monthly housing allowance equal to the basic allowance for housing payable to a military E-5 with dependents, in the same zip code as your school (look up your zipcode)
Yearly books and supplies stipend of up to $1000 per year
I finally received the packet with all of my TDRL (Temporary Disability Retirement List) information in it. It contained information explaining my benefits as well as instructions for my time on the TDRL. I basically need to see a military doctor every 18 months, keep the Marines informed of any change of address or other significant changes (marriage, children, etc), and choose a Tricare health insurance plan.
Did you know that candidates separated from the Marine Corps are never given a DD 214 or any other kind of discharge papers? According to my disenrollment letter:
You are separated as a Officer Candidate Disenrollment, Code JFW1. Your description of service is “entry level separation.” Members in this status do not receive a discharge certificate or characterization of service at separation.
So things are at a stand-still until I receive official orders to TDRL. It turns out because I don’t have (and won’t be getting) a DD 214, nobody is able to register me. All they can tell me at the national VA headquarters and at the local level here in Boston, is that cases like mine are handled at a regional level. Try calling your regional VA office and the call will go straight to the national headquarters.
A Marine Officer who graduated OCS in 1967 found my site and offered some excellent advice to getting things worked out. He recommended I get in touch with my local Disabled American Veterans. Let’s hope they will be able to assist me with the VA.