Believe it or not, not a lot has happened since I last posted. I finished my first semester of going back to school in late December, and had the next four weeks off to relax. Since NYU knew the VA was going to pay for my spring semester, I didn’t need to make any kind of deposit, which was a big relief. I started back two weeks ago. It was difficult to get back into reading/studying in all of my spare time, but this semester is much more in depth than last, and I’m really enjoying it.
The leg has been hurting more this past week or two, but it’s probably just from using it again. I’m planning on getting a referral to the Hospital for Special Surgery, where I will hopefully have my hip replaced in January 2011, right after I graduate. It should be a shorter recovery this time.
Even though I know it will be difficult to come to terms with replacement surgery every 10-15 years, I can’t deal with this pain, arthritis, and severely limited range of motion for too much longer.
I have some good news to report! The Post-9/11 GI Bill has finally come through. Last week I received a check for my housing allowance and books. The VA also gave NYU a check for $18,451 for this semester’s tuition. NYU kicked in the remaining $561 because they elected to participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program. Certification isn’t automatic, so I need to do all this again next semester, but I’ve heard it gets easier. It definitely makes my leg hurt a little less knowing the government is paying for my education. Funny how that works.
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
To calculate how much you can be awarded, check out the Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits calculator. For those who want to know more about the eligibility requirements, see the VA’s Post-9/11 GI Bill’s website at gibill.va.gov.
Finally got a letter from the VA regarding my service connected compensation claim. I’ve been assigned a 30% rating, which I’m not too happy about. It’s like they ignored everything that was happening with my leg, and simply looked up what rating was next to “hip fracture.” I’m going to meet with the DAV (Disabled American Veterans) this week and file an appeal.
Just got off the phone with the VA. I called to check the status of my claim, and to see if there was anything they needed from me. It’s been 4 months since I started the claim, and I haven’t heard from them in quite a while. The man I spoke to told me that my claim had just been transferred to ratings. All the paperwork and evaluations supporting my claim will be looked at, and I will be assigned a rating. He said it could be another 1-2 months, but hopefully won’t be too much longer.