Military students feel patriotic duty

By Ginger Rihle

Although NIU military students receive financial benefits through the Veterans Administration, several students consider their patriotic duty to be more important than their income.

obert Fausti was in the Marines and is now in the ROTC program at NIU. He said he appreciates the benefits, but people who enter the military should go to serve their country, not to see how much money they can make.

Fausti receives benefits through the Voluntary Educational Assistance Program (VEAP). For every dollar he gives to the program, the government matches with $2.

The VEA is no longer in effect since the New G.I. Bill took over in 1975, but many who joined before that time are receiving benefits through VEAP.

Fausti said those who enter the military also should realize they might be called to war, thus facing the possibility of death.

VA benefits have helped Fausti with his college education. “I couldn’t go to school without them,” he said.

John Connolly is in the ROTC, the Illinois Army National Guard and is a student at NIU. He is receiving benefits through the New G.I. Bill, which allows full-time students in the reserve components of the armed forces to receive $140 a month for 36 months. This money only applies toward undergraduate degrees.

Connolly joined the ROTC during his first semester at NIU. He said the benefits were secondary to him when he decided to join.

“It’s a good program, both the ROTC and the Guard,” Connolly said. He added the ROTC was interesting and “a lot of fun.” He said he would recommend others to join the program.

Michelle Marsden, a VA counselor, said there are 400 to 600 students in VA programs, and the number is increasing.

Marsden said there are eight different programs for VA benefits. Some of the programs are the Old G.I. Bill, the New G.I. Bill, the Illinois Veterans Grant and the Voluntary Educational Assistance Program.