Serving IU’s veterans

Guest post courtesy of IU News Room colleague Bethany Nolan, who typically blogs at Art at IU

Staffers from the Indianapolis VA Regional Office’s Outreach Team were on the IU Bloomington campus earlier this week, helping nearly 20 student, staff and faculty veterans navigate an online portal for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Known as eBenefits, the digital portal provides information about a veteran’s official military records, access to compensation and pension claims information, VA home loan eligibility and Board of Veterans’ Appeals status. It can also provide access to TRICARE medical, dental and pharmacy information, coverage under Service Members Group Life Insurance and GI Bill education benefits, as well as many other veterans programs and benefits.

A recent partnership effort between IU and a regional veterans affairs office provided benefits assistance to student, staff and faculty veterans.

A recent partnership effort between IU and a regional veterans affairs office provided benefits assistance to student, staff and faculty veterans.

“We are always pleased to partner with the VA to make services and benefits more accessible for our veterans,” said Margaret Baechtold, director of IU’s Veterans Support Services office. “This made the process much simpler for many veterans who might otherwise have to drive to Indianapolis to present their ID in person to validate their account, and we’re glad many student veterans took advantage of this opportunity to get set up to manage their own benefits.”

She said 19 veterans — including students, staff and faculty members — completed the eBenefits account enrollment process. VA officials left paperwork with several others, and also discussed the disability claim process.

Navy veteran Rich Nourie, who is now a doctoral candidate in higher education, said he was glad of the assistance.

“The people from the VA were great. They explained what eBenefits were all about, as well as answer loads of other questions about VA benefits,” he said via email. “It’s great the Veterans Support Services office was able to set this up. They’re a resource for the whole IU community, assisting student veterans such as myself, as well as reservists, National Guard and active duty military students at IU. An office such as this did not exist when I returned from the Gulf War, so I’m thrilled such a resource exists for this new generation of veterans.”

Baechtold said her office hopes to host similar visits on a regular basis to assist the more than 400 student veterans and more than 200 faculty and staff veterans on the Bloomington campus.

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