GI Bill benefits help close to home

Army veteran attends Hondros College of Nursing.

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​In July of 2008 the Post-9/11 GI Bill was signed into law, creating a new robust education benefits program rivaling the World War II era GI Bill of Rights. The Post-9/11 GI Bill provides education benefits for veterans who have served on active duty for 90 or more days since Sept. 10, 2001.

Chelsea Hubbard, now a Beavercreek resident, enlisted in the military after graduating from Piqua High School. “I was in the Army from September of 2009 through October of 2012,” Hubbard said. “I wanted to be a nurse since I was 5 years old but decided to try something different in the Army.”

Hubbard was trained in computers and communications and spent her Army career at Fort Carson in Colorado, where she was part of a drop-in hospital that could be set up quickly in combat zones. Though never deployed, Hubbard was injured while serving and became 50 percent disabled due to a back injury.

Once she transitioned out of Army service, Hubbard began to plan her future and returned to her original dream of becoming a nurse. Her Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits have helped her realize her career goals by removing the burden of how to finance a college education.

“The GI Bill benefits are great,” Hubbard said. “I get my school paid and a book allowance as well as a monthly stipend and I have an additional 12 months added because of being disabled.”

GI Bill benefits are tiered based upon active duty service, but (in addition to tuition, payments for books and supplies and the living/housing stipend) the benefits include a one-time relocation allowance and the option to transfer benefits to family members.

After researching several local colleges, Hubbard settled on Hondros College, located in Fairborn. The college offers a diploma for practical nursing and an associate degree in nursing as well as a Bachelor of Science (BSN) program. Hubbard began her studies in June 2013 and is now a licensed practical nurse (LPN) working on her BSN.

Mary Cannon, the director of financial aid at Hondros, said that the college provides personalized assistance for veterans and their families. “Our students work directly with a financial aid professional, and the certification of benefits is timely and tailored to each individual,” she said. “In addition to the federal veteran and dependent benefits, there are other benefits that a veteran’s dependents may be eligible to receive. Hondros College’s financial-aid professionals are fully prepared to administer these programs, which include the Ohio War Orphans Scholarship and the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant.”

Scott Stiver, the Dayton/Fairborn campus director at Hondros, said the GI Bill serves as a resource to help veterans and their family members pay for schooling. “These benefits can bridge the gap between the cost of school and other aid programs,” he said. “GI Bill benefits help ease the financial burden that many students face when attending college and allow them to focus on their education.”

Hondros also works with each student to ensure benefits are received in a timely manner. “Our veterans and their families are very important to our culture,” Stiver said. “Many are involved in volunteer work in the community and also participate in on campus activities. Hondros College of Nursing is thankful to all for their service and continues to support the educational goals of all students.”

For students like Hubbard, the benefits have made a tremendous difference in her ability to achieve those goals.

“I was able to choose the school I wanted, and what I like best about Hondros is the program is fast paced and constantly changing, so I stay interested,” she said. “We were hands-on from the first quarter, and the experience is wonderful.”

During this quarter, Hubbard will be working at Sycamore Medical Center in Miamisburg every Wednesday for 12-hour shifts.

“I don’t have to take out any students loans, and I won’t be in debt when I graduate,” Hubbard said. “I don’t have to stress about how I’m going to pay for school, and I don’t have to work as much, so my focus is on school rather than paying the bills.”

Hubbard’s goal is to graduate with her BSN and work at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Medical Center. “It’s really important that people know that the GI Bill benefits don’t just pay for the bigger universities,” she said. “They will cover many educational programs and smaller colleges as well.”

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