Take Advantage of VA Career Counseling to Make the Most of Your Military Benefits
When you think of your educational benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs, you may focus on the financial aspects. There’s no doubt that the GI Bill®, tuition assistance and other programs can help you on the path to a successful post-military career; however, paying for school isn’t the only way that the VA can help you access education. Among the many services available from the VA are career and educational counseling, which can prove invaluable in helping you not only determine your career goals, but help you plan to actually achieve them.
In this article, we explore VA career counseling and how veterans can take advantage of this benefit.
Getting Started With VA Career Counseling
Chances are, you already have an idea of what you would like to do once you leave the military. The education and training you receive in the service can help you determine what you are interested in and where you excel. After years of having your time and activities planned, you may need help figuring out next steps for getting where you want to be.
That is where career and educational counseling can help you. The VA offers free counseling to any service member who is within six months of discharge, has been discharged in the previous year, is eligible for the GI Bill®, or currently receiving GI Bill® benefits. Trained counselors will:
- Assist you to determine which career field is best for you and what you need to do to get there.
- Help you identify barriers to success.
- Help you make sense of your benefits and show you how to get the most out of them.
One part of the VA counseling program is the CareerScope assessment. This online assessment will help translate your interests and aptitudes into potential career fields or educational options. The assessment provides a guide to possible options using information about your verbal and numerical skills, manual dexterity, learning style and more, as well as your own statements about your interest in working in specific fields or doing certain tasks. While you aren’t required to pursue one of the recommended options to access your educational benefits, your CareerScope results will help guide your sessions with the counselor and possibly expose fields you hadn’t previously considered.
Another way that counseling services assist veterans is building a resume. Military experience can apply to virtually any career, but translating that service into civilian terms can be a challenge. Because trends in resumes and job hunting are constantly changing, career counselors can help transitioning veterans develop a job search strategy and materials that will appeal to employers.
Finally, VA career counseling isn’t only designed to help you determine what to do with your life after military service. Under the Chapter 36 Educational and Career Counseling, veterans can receive personalized counseling and support services to help smooth their transition into academic life. These resources are in addition to any services offered by your school.
Make the Most of Your Benefits
To access career and educational benefits through the VA, confirm your eligibility on the VA’s eBenefits website. Once you schedule an appointment with a counselor, it’s up to you make the most of it. Here are some quick tips for how to approach VA career counseling.
- Actively participate in the conversation and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
- Be ready to discuss your experiences, goals and dreams so that you can work together with the counselor to develop a plan.
- Know that you will be challenged to answer questions about why you are interested in a particular path and to honestly assess your skills and experience.
- Be ready to come up with a plan for achieving what you set out to accomplish.
Remember that counselors are on your side, but they are also going to try to get you out of your comfort zone.
Taking advantage of VA career counseling can help you clarify your goals and make the most of your benefits and time as a student. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of this expert help, and get your post-military career off on the right foot.
To learn more about the VA’s Chapter 36 services, view the following video:
At Columbia Southern University, our dedicated military support staff is comprised of current and former military members who understand your unique needs. We provide flexible online education options for military members who are planning to go back to school, and approximately 40% of our total student population of more than 29,000 are military-affiliated.
Learn more about our online degree programs at CSU.