Secretary of Veteran Affairs Discusses Fort Hood and the New G.I. Bill at USF

11/06/09 Arielle Stevenson
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With Veterans Day right around the corner, Secretary of Veteran Affairs Erik Shinseki spoke today at the University of South Florida about the new Post-9/11 G.I. Bill. But the occasion was somber, coming only one day after an Army Psychiatrist at Fort Hood in Texas, opened fire on soldiers killing at least 13 people. Secretary Shinseki served two years at Fort Hood and said the crime was simply senseless.

Shinseki traveled to USF to speak about the new Post-9/11 G.I. Bill, which includes provisions to aide in the transition many veterans face while trying to adapt to civilian life. For veterans returning home with plans of utilizing their G.I. Bill to attend school, Shinseki said that the Department of Veteran Affairs is implementing programs to help smooth the change which can be shocking for some.

After serving 38 years in the US Army, which included serving in Vietnam, Shinseki said that he understands the difficulties that soldiers face, and believes that even with his efforts-there still isn’t enough being done to help veterans.

Shinseki’s visit was part of an all-day conference discussing strategies on how to improve veteran care, with a special focus on those students entering college after war. The Post-9/11 G.I. Bill is slated to cover not only tuition, but books, supplies and housing stipends.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is something that Shinseki said was once ignored but now is being dealt with on a regular basis.

Homelessness, depression and unemployment are also issues that Shinseki said Veterans Affairs are taking a hard look at, and trying to decrease through prevention and the availability of programs.

The proposed 2010 Veterans Affairs budget is expected to increase 15 percent from last year. And a large amount of that money is expected to go towards medical care, including increased focus on mental health care.

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