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Military to civilian

Discussion in 'Nontraditional Students' started by chirichiello, Dec 25, 2008.

  1. chirichiello

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    Hello everybody. Just have a question about a military to civilian transition career. Ive been in an Army medical MOS (radiology) since I was 18, im now 22 finishing up my first enlistment. My plan now is to start premed courses come spring time and continue my education through med school. Its been 4 years since i've been in a non-military school so is there any advice to someone in this particular situation??
     
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  3. njbmd

    njbmd Guest
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    Start slow, achieve excellence and then add more coursework if you need to move faster. The biggest mistake that people returning to school often make is trying to rush the process. School will always be there and you always need excellent grades. Take your time starting out and get them then add more courses if you can. If not, don't worry so much about it but keep getting those excellent grades.

    Your military background will serve you well so make the most of every tool that you have. You are 22 and have loads of time to make things happen for yourself. Keep you eye on your long-term goal but take each day and each step as it comes. Also, take some time and get some coursework like critical writing analysis or advanced reasoning under your belt. These courses help tremendously with every other course that you will take. Good luck and thanks for serving!
     
  4. nontrdgsbuiucmd

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    Yes definitely going slow enough to get top grades in every class is a strong recommendation, I'd started fulltime in science classes with 15 hours, which doesn't seem a lot, but it was tougher for me to earn those As than when taking 16 hrs of more advanced science classes the next semester.

    A suggestion, unless you're intent on going military medicine, would be to look into non-military clinical volunteer experience. This could be a good chance to learn more about other medical fields, although top grades and after that MCAT prep should take a higher priority given it sounds like you have a lot of medical experience already.

    The toughest thing for me, looking at this from the starting point, was to realize, accept, and embrace that there are YEARS worth of hoops to jump through - first the premed classes, then the mcat (2x for me and many others), letters of recommendation, volunteer experience (essentially required - preferably both clinical and non-clinical), a well worded personal statement, interviews, etc. Often I'd find myself trying to understand how seemingly irrelevant qualifications, like getting an A in physics, would prove that I'd be a better MD than the next applicant, and being unable to figure it out. In retrospect, I suspect that much of this proves that an applicant is really serious about this path and has shown this determination over an extended time period.

    Best of luck!
     
  5. pharm B

    pharm B Phar Noir
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    Make sure you research the GI Bill thoroughly since there are changes coming. I believe the "new" GI Bill is effective August 1, 2009, and it works differently than the one currently in use.

    Also research your college state's veterans' benefits. Texas has the Hazelwood Act, and I know a few other states offer help to veterans going back to school.
     
  6. MSmentor018

    MSmentor018 Hooah!
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    also find out what colleges are willing to transfer your military credits. you automatically get all your PE credits but not always your MOS or extra courses you've taken in the military. you could enroll on line somewhere, get them transferred, then transferred again to the school of your choice
     
  7. darkosbunny

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    If you plan on going to school either this semester or summer semester 09, I would pay out of pocket, and not use the GI Bill until the fall. Starting in August, the new GI Bill kicks in, and you want to try to take advantage by getting all 36 months of the new version.

    Plus the VA hasn't yet released all the information as to how the old GI Bill will transfer to the new GI Bill, so it's best not to use any of the benefit until August.

    If you don't know the specifics, basically with the new Bill, you receive 100% state undergrad tuition, paid up front to the school. You never directly receive the tuition payment and this appears to be a good thing. VA pays the school the tuition. Every month that you're enrolled in at least 3/4 time school (9 hours or more), you receive an allowance equal to the E5 with dependent rate at the zipcode of the school. But this payment only counts for classes being taken at the school itself; distance learning does not count towards the 9 hours. I believe there's also a yearly $1000 book allowance, and there may also be a tutoring allowance, but I'm not sure. I know there was a tutoring allowance with the old GI Bill.
     
  8. m015094

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    I've posted this elsewhere on SDN, but I thought it would be appropriate to this thread.

    Consider using the VA healthcare (assuming you are near a VA facility) in lieu of the school's heath insurance. It will save you between $800-$3000 per year depending on the school.
     
  9. darkosbunny

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    You can only do this if you were deployed in a combat zone...

    I'm thinking of doing this too, but if you travel somewhere and break your arm, you're pretty much screwed.
     
  10. scottyT

    scottyT Real Member
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    You are incorrect about VA eligibility. It is available to (most) all honorably discharged vets. The priority levels are assigned based on whether you have a service-connected disability and/or combat deployed and/or retired. Even as a low priority vet (non-service connected, never been to a combat zone) you get full access to VA care. As long as you use the VA on an annual basis or more frequently, they will cover your non-VA hospital stay provided you call them immediately and get immediately transferred to a VA facility. It is very comprehensive and ideal if you have no major health issues; the prescription drug benefit is super cheap also. I encourage you to go speak with admissions and eligibility at your local VA and get yourself enrolled. Even if you carry private insurance, you should enroll in the VA just in case you need it.

    PM me if you have questions.
     
  11. orbiter104

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    I was in a similar situation, got in at 17 and out by 21. Started taking a light load (2 courses, 6 semester credits - 2x6) while working full time and still participating in the reserves. Next semester I took on 4 courses (4x12), 2 easy/2 hard, then eventually worked up to some insane 6x18 schedules and 4x11 over the summer. It all depends on your situation and what you're capable of handling. Just be sure to maintain your grades and follow the previous advice on gaining some volunteering/clinical experience.

    There are definitely good things coming down for you later this year when it comes to the new GIbill. Look at http://www.gibill.va.gov/GI_Bill_Info/CH33/Benefit_Comparison_Chart.htm for what you qualify for and what you need to do to certify your enrollment under the new program. There is also a Q&A section but contact your school's representative for details and they are the ones that set you up for certification. I would imagine the months you have remaining on CH30 would transfer to CH33 once they transition to the new program in Aug.
     
  12. darkosbunny

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    http://www.oefoif.va.gov/
    http://www.med.navy.mil/sites/nhcgl/Pages/5yrComVets.aspx

    We just had a VA rep at my SEPS class and he verified that you have to be an OIF/OEF vet to rate the 5 year VA hospital deal. They may have other benefits for non-deployers but not free, unlimited access to a VA hospital for 5 years.
     
    #11 darkosbunny, Mar 11, 2009
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2009
  13. scottyT

    scottyT Real Member
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    This is an expanded access program that VA instituted to ensure continuity of care with OIF/OEF vets. I have been discharged as a non combat, non-service connected vet since 2003 and I still receive unlimited VA care. In fact, I used a VA ER just about a year ago and payed absolutely nothing. It used to be free for me but you have to fill out a means test on an annual basis that determines whether you have to make the copay or not. I made too much money last year to qualify as copay exempt for this year. The copays are quite reasonable if you do fall into this category. The expanded program you're talking about is absolutely free--meaning no means test required. Once again, this program was made to ensure that new vets have quick access to VA services with less red tape but any honorably discharged veteran can apply. You DO NOT have to be a combat veteran to qualify for VA medical care.
     
  14. darkosbunny

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    I stand corrected :cool:
     
  15. scottyT

    scottyT Real Member
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    I should also clarify that veterans who exceed the income threshold and do not have a disability or combat status cannot enroll at this time. But, if you enroll once in your life (like, right after you discharge or when you're in school) then you can continue receiving VA benefits indefinitely as long as you use the service every once in a while. Here's a breakdown of the income thresholds. Keep in mind that VA will allow you to subtract education expenses from your income to calculate a new income.

    http://www.va.gov/healtheligibility/Library/pubs/VAIncomeThresholds/VAIncomeThresholds.pdf
     
  16. m015094

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    scottyT,

    Lots of good info that you've provided. I've learned a lot about how the VA operates since I left active duty 2 years ago. There is A LOT of misinformation given to people separating.

    Even if you aren't given a disability rating or make too much money and exceed the income threshold, you can still receive VA health care - you just have to pay copays (just like with a private insurer). Right now, copays are $15 for primary care , $50 for a specialist. Prescriptions are $8/month. This is a good deal considering you don't pay premiums.

    That being said, many people supplement the VA coverage with their own health insurance from their job, but as a med student it's not like you will be covered by the school (unless you pay).

    Also, ER visits can get tricky. Like you said, request a VA hospital transfer if you can. If you can't (not conscious), then you may end up with a hospital bill of thousands of dollars. This is fine. There was a things called the "Millennium Bill" that was instituted a number of years ago. This will cover you if you don't have private insurance and go to the ER, but, and this is important, YOU MUST BE ESTABLISHED WITH THE VA PRIOR or they will give you NOTHING!! I'm speaking from my 1st hand experience with a $20K hospital bill on this one. Not fun. Oh, and for whatever stupid reason, vets are NOT automatically enrolled in the VA system when you leave active duty. You MUST do this yourself.

    So, if there is a message to take away from my rambling it is to register with you local VA hospital as soon as you leave active duty, even if you think that you won't use it.
     
  17. scottyT

    scottyT Real Member
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    This is good info. That doc you posted the link to is straight money. My understanding is that they often pay for non-VA hospital stays even for vets who are not copay exempt. The distinction is that they aren't required to (like with the low income vets) and they make the determination after you are transferred back to VA. This, of course, could be a pretty penny if they decide not to pay for your hospital stay.

    I should also add that if you have private insurance and decide to use the VA (as I do, because I can afford it), they don't make you pay the copays at all regardless of your priority status. Whatever your insurer pays them is accepted as payment in full with no copay obligation. I think it's a little bit of incentive to get vets to provide their own insurance so the VA can recoup some of its costs.

    The seps/discharge briefing people are downright miserable at explaining VA benefits to newly separating vets. I had to research everything myself after I got out. They've improved outreach over the last 5 or so years but they still have a long way to go.

    The bit I posted about receiving care as a non-rated/non-combat vet with a high income was related to enrolling as a new VA user. You can most definitely receive unlimited care if you are in this category, but they've been restricting new enrollees in this category since 2003 according to the information up on their eligibility website. Of course, this could be blatantly wrong ... they have been known to put up bad info from time to time. The best thing about this for new vets is that they are approved to receive free care for 5 years right off the bat so they don't have to worry about being approved for enrollment. Like I said, once you are in the system you will stay there as long as you use it once every year or so.
     

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