The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs celebrated 70 years of investment in the education and economic prosperity of America’s service members and veterans last month. The Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, more commonly known as the “GI Bill,” was enacted 70 years ago to provide a wide range of benefits for veterans returning from World War II. The bill, heralded as a huge success at that time, offered education, vocational training and low-cost home loans. Legislation later extended the benefits to veterans of the Korean, Vietnam and Gulf Wars, as well as to those serving during peacetime. More recently, passage of the Post-9/11 GI Bill helped provide these same benefits to the newest generation of veterans and activated members of the National Guard and Reserve. Since 1944, the GI Bill has helped more than 22 million beneficiaries.
The veterans affairs office at Murray State University has played a huge role in implementing these benefits to local veterans, serving as a liaison between student veterans and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The on-campus office has a dedicated VA representative and a school-certifying official and offers the Yellow Ribbon program to its vets. Murray State provides tuition assistance and college credit for military training. Also offered is a peer-to-peer mentoring program and counseling services. The on-site office also keeps current resource information available to students and their families, and encourages visits in person or by phone with questions pertaining to education or benefits.
Christopher Jeter, who is Murray State’s assistant registrar for veterans and military services, recalls his own experience using the GI Bill. Jeter joined the Army National Guard while still in high school. When he entered Murray State in 2001, he used the Montgomery GI Bill Selected Reserve benefit along with the Kentucky National Guard tuition waiver to start his college education. His tuition was fully paid. Additionally, Jeter worked as a federal work-study student in the veterans affairs office during this time.
Due to the terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2001, and the events that followed, Jeter was deployed twice during his time as a student at Murray State — in 2002 and again in 2005. He continued to work and completed his degree at the mobilization station in December 2005 before heading into Iraq.
Since graduating from Murray State, Jeter re-deployed to Iraq in 2011. His unit was responsible for providing and handing over the security of Victory Base Complex, Baghdad to the Iraqi army. “I feel very fortunate to work for Murray State University as well as work with our student veterans to ensure they are able to maximize their earned VA education benefits,” said Jeter. “In a small way, this is my opportunity to give back to those who have sacrificed so much for the freedom that we all enjoy each day.”
For more information regarding veterans benefits at Murray State, contact Jeter at 270.809.3754.