VA benefits for dependents?
June 29, 2007 5:02 PM   Subscribe

Some co-workers of mine are Vietnam era veterans. Most of them have sent their kids to really great universities and colleges using their VA benefits. My Dad's a Vietnam vet, and I worked a bunch of jobs just to afford a car and junior college. Did I get screwed?

I'm sure I'm way too old now (38), but these stories of kids going to UCLA and Berkeley are starting to piss me off. 20 something years ago, did I miss the boat?

Please give me the scoop. And, yea, I smell a fight brewing with me and my old man.
posted by snsranch to Education (24 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
it's not worth thinking about now

you won't change the past, you'll only f'up your future and waste time, why not make the best of today
posted by Salvatorparadise at 5:14 PM on June 29, 2007

How did that bust-your-ass-to-get-by work ethic work out for you in the long run? Maybe your old man was looking to instill that value in you.

really, truly not trying to be snarky or sarcastic here, just to offer up a different possible viewpoint.
posted by kdar at 5:19 PM on June 29, 2007

Wow. My dad's a WW II vet and we didn't get any help with college--nor did my nieces and nephew, children of a Vietnam vet. Is this at all common? Never heard of it, never expected it. Sure, the vet may get benefits (GI Bill), but help with college for the kids? Is it only if your income is under a certain level?
posted by GaelFC at 5:20 PM on June 29, 2007

The VA pamphlet says that eligible dependents for aid from the GI Bill only include those whose parents or spouses are
*permanently and totally disabled
*MIA or captive

There are lots of other programs summarized on, which your friends may be using, but which would have required some legwork to obtain. It's possible those were around 20 years ago, but were too hard for you to find without the wonders of the internet.
posted by saffry at 5:21 PM on June 29, 2007

and, aren't these public universities? it's not like you're saying they were all sent to yale or something!
posted by Salvatorparadise at 5:21 PM on June 29, 2007

A quick scan of the VA website suggests that educational benefits for kids are only available to children of servicemembers who were killed or permanently disabled in the service.
posted by phoenixy at 5:24 PM on June 29, 2007

I actually went to UC Santa Cruz this way. The state of California offers free tuition (but not fees) to dependents of 100% disabled or diseased vets. There are also some Federal benefits available -- a program called Chapter 35, but again, I believe they're only for vets or the dependents of service-disabled or service-killed vets. The Chap 35 benefits accrue for any kind of career-oriented training, the state benefits apply only to state schools.
posted by YoungAmerican at 5:25 PM on June 29, 2007

I'm not sure what you are talking about. Most states for, example, New York, provide some limited financial aid to children whose parents "either died, suffered a 40% or more disability, was classified as missing in action, or was a prisoner of war."

Or California "spouses or children (under 26 years of age) of veterans who were either killed while serving in the armed forces or were totally and permanently disabled while on active duty."

So yeah, I guess it's a really bummer that your Dad didn't get himself killed in the war.
posted by JackFlash at 5:25 PM on June 29, 2007

I've never heard of this, myself. Friends of the family, the father is a Vietnam vet, and to my knowledge, his three daughters have not been the recipients of any Veteran aid for college.
posted by Atreides at 5:27 PM on June 29, 2007

using their VA benefits

I'm 38 as well, and fought my way through college alone. Precisely what VA benefits are you talking about? They weren't exactly giving money away there in the 80s. My old man was a Vietnam vet, too (bronze star, two purple hearts), and I didn't hear about any magical VA benefits, either.

I ask this rhetorical question as a way of answering that perhaps your friends' claims to "VA benefits" are over-exaggerated, and they went to UCLA and Berkeley via programs that were generally available to anyone.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:27 PM on June 29, 2007

On preview, Dad is still alive, so apparently I missed out. He did coach Little League, though, so there's that bonus ... ;-)
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:28 PM on June 29, 2007

Salvatorparadise, nah I don't have time for any REAL bitterness. I'm too busy prepping my own kids for college. I'm just curious, in part, because it might provide insight into other familial issues.

And kdar makes a really good point. My Dad is that guy. Definitely, "Pick yourself up by the bootstraps" kinda thing.

So far it looks like no harm no foul. Perhaps my "buddies" at work are just FOS.
posted by snsranch at 5:36 PM on June 29, 2007

Forgive me for stirring up some ire in this question. I guess it really does come off as a "poor fucking me" kinda thing.
posted by snsranch at 5:43 PM on June 29, 2007

I'm a daughter of a disabled (not 100%) Vietnam vet and actively tried to find out if I qualified for financial support based on my dad's status. I checked with my college and with a financial aid agency. Back in the early 90's, there was nothing available to me and I took out loans and worked my way to pay for college myself. I know my dad still feels bad that he couldn't help me out. If there was financial aid available to kids of veterans, he would have done what he could to hook me up.

Based on the way that Vietnam era vets were treated regarding health care, mental health care, financial support and other bureaucracy; it would not surprise me at all to find out that a tuition benefit for dependents was not promoted or communicated to service members.
posted by pluckysparrow at 5:48 PM on June 29, 2007

Perhaps your buddies have fathers who sustained permanent mental (emotional) disabilities. These wouldn't be visible. The kids might never have been told about the disabilities -- just that they could go to school for free. Their parents might have spun it as free tuition for all VA kids, so that they didn't have to go into details.
posted by acoutu at 5:58 PM on June 29, 2007

My uncle was a Vietnam vet, and none of my cousins got any VA benefits for their educations.

However, that doesn't mean that there aren't non-VA educational funds for veterans' kids. For example, I went to a private university (late '80s-early '90s), and when I filled out my financial aid form I was asked to indicate if I was the direct descendent of any veterans of a long list of U.S. wars. This evidently indicated various funds from which a portion of my financial aid package would be eligible to be drawn. So in that sense, yes, I benefited by being the descendent of two WWII vets (both grandfathers) and a Civil War vet (one of my great-great-grandfathers), even though obviously I didn't receive anything from the VA. (And I certainly didn't get anything approaching a full-ride scholarship.)
posted by scody at 5:58 PM on June 29, 2007

Hang on...wasn't there some sort of tuition subsidy for children of California residents in the 1980s? One of my friends left Canada to go to school in the SF Valley because she got free tuition -- her dad lived there.
posted by acoutu at 6:02 PM on June 29, 2007

The only guy I know who's gotten any VA benefits due to his dad's status as a Vietnam vet received them because his dad came home disabled, and when his dad died unexpectedly the disability benefits went to his next-of kin, presumably until he turns 18.

So yeah, it's a trade-off. My friend would rather have his father.
posted by lekvar at 6:07 PM on June 29, 2007

I would second what kdar said. Even if it wasn't his intention, it's best to think of it as his way of naming you Sue.
posted by micayetoca at 6:11 PM on June 29, 2007

My father was a Vietnam vet, his military service played no role in my financial aid in college. I think your friends at work are confused. I went to school and college with a number of other kids whose parents also served in Vietnam, and some of my father's High School classmates were also Vietnam veterans. There was never any talk about the GI Bill relieving some of their children's college expenses. On top of it all, wasn't the funding in the GI Bill severely cut back either in the late 70s or the early 80s? I'm not sure about those dates, but I remember hearing that the GI Bill doesn't cover nearly as much of the cost of education after a soldier's enlistment is up that it once did.

Maybe there was some kind of banking program where they could set aside money from paychecks for a children's education fund?
posted by BigSky at 7:49 PM on June 29, 2007

Some private benefits programs directed at veterans and dependents of veterans. A fair number of state educational institutions probably have checkbox-preference programs for vets and dependents as well, but those may not translate into anything more than a chance at something.

Personally, I think you're looking for a chip to put on your shoulder. Essentially, beginning the in 1960s, the US government poured so much money into college education that it became universally available (to the oft consternation of vocational educators and other alternatives). There wasn't much juice in a special VA benefit that may or may not have existed at the time compared to the open spigot of new funding sources like Pell Grants and gov't-guaranteed loans.
posted by dhartung at 9:58 PM on June 29, 2007

Just adding my voice to those others with Vietnam Vet dads. Neither I nor my brothers got any VA help with our educations. My FATHER went to college after Vietnam and THAT was completely covered. But, no, we had to take out loans and pay them back.
posted by generic230 at 10:59 PM on June 29, 2007

Back in the mid 1990s, my brother (now age 36) and I both received the benefits Saffry and YoungAmerican describe, based on my dad's status as a medically disabled veteran. For full-time students seeking a degree, this worked out to about $3-4K each school year, under Chapter 35. We went to state schools and worked full/part time jobs as well. The money was helpful, but both of us would have much preferred having a healthy dad.

It's likely that your coworkers might be disabled, but pride and/or military training prevents them from revealing this to you.
posted by mochapickle at 12:30 PM on June 30, 2007

And to follow up to BigSky, the status of the disability was 100%. A reduction of the status would have eliminated the benefit.
posted by mochapickle at 12:40 PM on June 30, 2007

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