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North Carolina Veterans’ Benefits: Nursing and Education

Written by: North Carolina Central University   •  Dec 4, 2023
A veteran wearing a uniform, sitting with a nurse.

North Carolina Veterans’ Benefits: Nursing and Education

In addition to having the most advanced military technology and resources in the world, the U.S. military also has one of the largest groups of military personnel with approximately  1.4 million active service members.

As compensation for their service and sacrifice, U.S. veterans are eligible for numerous benefits for themselves and their families, and for education opportunities, including in health care. This means that veterans spend far less on health care services over their lifetimes, and they are afforded an array of career options once their service has concluded.

Current and future veterans living in North Carolina should familiarize themselves with their benefits, as this can help them plan for the future. After covering North Carolina veterans’ benefits, this resource guide will highlight the advantages of a career in health care and what to expect when working as a registered nurse (RN).

What Are Veterans’ Benefits?

One of the major long-term advantages of serving in the military is the benefits package. Veterans’ benefits are available to those who served in any branch of the U.S. military and provide coverage and government assistance for things such as:

  • Life insurance
  • Home loans
  • Health care
  • Education and training
  • Pensions
  • Disability compensation
  • Veteran Readiness and Employment (VR&E) program benefits

To be eligible for veterans’ benefits , the individual must have served a full period of active duty or for 24 continuous months with no dishonorable discharge. Benefits are awarded to veterans for the remainder of their lives. Benefits for surviving spouses and children are awarded for a fixed period that’s determined by the veteran’s status, the benefit type, the recipient’s age, and other factors. For example, surviving spouses of veterans who were killed during active-duty service receive 20 years of benefits. Veterans’ survivor benefits may also apply to tuition assistance, burial costs, and financial assistance for training.

Disability Compensation

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), veterans who have a disability that relates to an illness or injury incurred during their service are eligible for disability compensation . Additionally, veterans who have certain post-service disabilities may be eligible if the disability is related to a health care condition that was originally incurred during active service.

Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC)

This tax-free benefit is paid to the military service member’s surviving spouse, parents, or children. To qualify for DIC, the service member must have died during active duty, active duty training, or inactive duty training.

Special Monthly Compensation (SMC)

This is a tax-free supplemental benefit that can be paid to veterans, their spouses, or their surviving parents and spouses. When paid to veterans, SMC is at a higher rate because it means special circumstances are in effect, such as the need for additional assistance relative to a disability. A veteran with a missing limb or hand, for example, qualifies for SMC.

Pensions

The VA provides pension benefits to those who are in financial need, which is intended to help veterans and their surviving family members meet their obligations. Pension benefits are not automatically disbursed. Veterans or their surviving families must apply for it through the VA and receive approval. After approval, this benefit is disbursed every month.

Health Care

Health care is an invaluable North Carolina veterans’ benefit that ensures former service members remain healthy during their post-military lives. However, VA health care is not a standardized plan that’s the same for everyone. Each  VA health care benefits package is unique, but always includes the following medical services:

Treatment for injuries and illnesses such as acute care, surgeries, and specialized care Preventive health care services such as exams, health education, and immunizations Health care services that improve physical function and quality of life Emergency health care or urgent care services Mental health services

Further, the Veterans Health Administration provides COVID-19 resources, help for Camp Lejeune survivors, and health care data access.

Some veterans may qualify for additional benefits, such as vision and dental benefits, as part of their package; however, the full list of VA health care benefits depends on a few factors, including:

The veteran’s priority group The professional opinion of the veteran’s primary care provider The current medical standards for treating the veteran’s health care conditions

To confirm the exact details of their VA health care benefits, veterans must contact the VA directly. Service members who are concluding their active duty can call 877-222-8387 to speak with a representative about their health care benefits.

Home Loans

Another valuable North Carolina veterans’ benefit pertains to home loans and property ownership. As part of the VA’s commitment to active service members, veterans, and their spouses, it offers a home loan guarantee benefit along with other programs that assist with home purchases, repairs, and new construction.

Although the home loan is provided by a mortgage company, private lender, or financial institution, the VA guarantees to pay a portion of it; this can help veterans obtain more favorable loan terms. Other benefits of the VA home loan program include:

No down payment Competitive interest rates Reduced closing costs No private mortgage insurance (PMI) Tax benefits Ability to use the benefit multiple times on future home purchases

Life Insurance

The VA offers life insurance benefits packages to service members, veterans, and their families, which include:

Veterans Affairs Life Insurance (VALife): This  insurance benefit offers guaranteed acceptance and provides coverage to veterans with service-related disabilities up to $40,000. The coverage takes two years to go into effect after enrollment.

Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI): SGLI is a group life insurance benefit program that is available to service members at a low monthly cost. SGLI coverage typically activates automatically for active-duty service members.

Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance Traumatic Injury Protection (TSGLI): The TSGLI benefit is automatically included with SGLI. The benefit provides financial compensation to service members who suffer traumatic injuries or incur a disability.

Veterans’ Group Life Insurance (VGLI): SGLI benefits convert to VGLI once the service member concludes active duty. It provides lifetime coverage once the separation of service is confirmed.

Family Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (FSGLI): This life insurance benefit extends to the children and spouses of active duty service members who are currently under the SGLI plan. Dependents are covered at no charge. Spousal coverage cannot exceed the service member’s SGLI coverage.

Veterans’ Mortgage Life Insurance (VMLI): VMLI is a benefit extended to veterans with disabilities that provides mortgage life insurance coverage. The caveat is that the veteran must be approved for a VA Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) grant.

Veteran Readiness and Employment (VR&E)

The Veteran Readiness and Employment (VR&E) program provides a suite of career-oriented services to veterans. VR&E assists with job training, interview coaching, resume building, continuing education, and creating workplace accommodations for those with special needs or medical conditions. Further, the VR&E program can help veterans who are launching their own businesses or who have disabilities that restrict them from securing traditional employment.

Why Pursue a Nursing Degree?

Service members near the end of their active-duty service need to start thinking about the future and what their post-service career aspirations are. Many veterans find working in the health care field as a nurse to be a rewarding and natural transition from military work. It allows them to continue serving people, although in a different capacity that relies on specific clinical skills.

However, some military skills transition seamlessly to a health care environment. Veterans often find that their ability to remain calm under pressure, communicate effectively, adapt quickly to new situations, and solve problems independently are all valuable skills for registered nurses.

Veterans also appreciate that nursing is one of the most stable professions in all of health care. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of registered nurses is projected to grow by 6% by 2032, which is much faster than the national average of 3% growth projected for all occupations.

Nurses also do well from a compensation standpoint. The BLS reports that RNs’ median annual salary in 2022 was $81,220. Further, the BLS reports that nurses in the upper 10th percentile of earners made more than $129,400 per year.

Additional advantages of earning a nursing degree and starting a career in health care include:

  • Learning a new set of in-demand skills
  • Flexible scheduling
  • Job security and a positive long-term career outlook
  • The ability to work in any of a variety of health care environments
  • Being able to select a nursing specialty or concentration
  • Plenty of room for advancement
  • Travel opportunities

What Does a Registered Nurse Do?

Registered nurses work alongside other health care providers such as nurse practitioners (NPs) and physicians to deliver care to patients within a health care environment. Most RNs work in hospitals, but they can also be found in private practices, outpatient clinics, schools, corporations, and government facilities. Veterans who wish to remain employed by the military can pursue a career as an army nurse.

Although the day-to-day responsibilities of a nurse will vary slightly by their work environment, RNs typically perform the following clinical duties:

  • Keeping accurate patient records
  • Helping prepare and maintain patients’ rooms
  • Assessing patients and performing examinations
  • Performing wound care and changing dressings
  • Collecting patients’ samples such as urine or blood
  • Ordering and performing diagnostic tests
  • Administering medications to patients and monitoring their effects
  • Performing regular check-ins of patients
  • Assisting patients in performing daily life activities
  • Helping patients remain calm and comfortable
  • Keeping close watch over patients for adverse changes in their condition
  • Educating patients and their families about how to manage their health
  • Collaborating with other clinicians
  • Assisting with the assembly of medical equipment

Most RNs work in a generalist capacity, meaning they deliver care to a broad demographic with no clinical focus. However, veterans who are interested in one particular area of medicine should explore the many nursing specialties that exist in health care. A specialty enables a nurse to concentrate on treating a specific area of the anatomy or work with a certain demographic of patients.

Nursing Career Resources for Veterans

Veterans who are considering a career in nursing may wonder how the VA will aid their transition into the health care field. For example, prospective professionals may be wondering about the veterans’ benefits in North Carolina or their respective states. The following resources are intended to help them secure employment:

The Veterans Health Administration is actively recruiting for nursing positions within their ranks. These positions provide veterans with the opportunity to work with active-duty service members in a clinical capacity. Over 93,000 nurses who currently work for the VA once served in the military. There are several benefits of working as a nurse for the VA , including career advancement opportunities, cross-training, and using the latest nursing technology.

Job sites like LinkedIn and Indeed experience heavy traffic from job seekers, which can make it difficult to stand out to employers. The VA careers site gives veterans an advantage by providing a job search portal for aspiring nurses in numerous specialties and locations.

Travel nursing allows veterans to see the world and share their clinical skills with underserved communities. The VA Travel Nurse Corps Program (TNC) allows registered nurses to apply for travel nursing positions within its internal job portal. In addition to delivering the highest standards of patient care to patients in the areas that need it most, the program is renowned for its recruitment of new nurses, high retention rates, minimal turnover, and job satisfaction. Additionally, the TNC affords maximum flexibility in terms of scheduling. Employees need only accept three 13-week placements per year to remain active within the program.

The “Total Rewards of VA Employment — Nursing Careers” guide is an educational resource that highlights the many perks of nursing careers within the VA. This publication provides an overview of what to expect in terms of compensation, insurance coverage, and educational opportunities.

Nursing Education Resources for Veterans

The journey to becoming a nurse in any capacity starts with education, which means that veterans with their sights set on a career in health care must consider their learning paths. Although the idea of returning to academia may seem overwhelming to veterans at first, the VA and other organizations offer several resources that make the process easier and more cost-effective:

  • The VA provides a resource that walks veterans through the process of finding and selecting a GI Bill-approved school . This streamlines the search process and provides useful information to veterans about their educational benefits.

  • Different schools offer different benefits to veterans. For example, North Carolina veterans’ benefits are likely different from those in California or New York. The GI Bill Comparison Tool enables veterans to see exactly what those benefits are and how they compare, which is a handy resource to have for those who are considering several schools or locations.

  • The Principles of Excellence program enables educational institutions to receive federal funding if they adhere to a set of guidelines that supports veterans’ education and best practices that promote transparency between students and schools. Veterans considering pursuing a nursing education can review the complete guidelines along with participating schools on the VA website.

  • The VA’s Yellow Ribbon Program is intended for students who require financial assistance to attend an out-of-state school, graduate school, international school, or private school that is not covered by the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Students can get the full details on the program’s eligibility requirements and benefits on the VA’s program page .

  • Before committing to a school or nursing program, veterans should familiarize themselves with how financial aid works and what they are responsible for in terms of repayment and loan terms. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) features a comprehensive breakdown of how to pay for college, including how to interpret financial aid offers and understand student loan terms. One of the main North Carolina veterans’ benefits is financial assistance through the VA, so veterans should investigate those first before exploring external options for financial assistance. The CFPB’s FAQ pag e is particularly helpful in answering many of the common questions veterans have.

Leveraging Your VA Benefits Can Lead to a Rewarding Nursing Career

Pivoting from military service to a career in health care enables veterans to continue to serve people within their community but in a different capacity. The most recent statistics show that nursing is a stable profession that will continue to grow in the coming years, making it a viable long-term career path. Further, nurses who rise to the top of their field make competitive salaries with plenty of room for career expansion into other areas of medicine.

As this guide has outlined, veterans have a wide array of resources they can access that can help them simplify their school selection process, cut their tuition costs, and ensure they get the best nursing education possible. Those who are ready to begin their journey toward a career in health care should start by evaluating the schools in their area and comparing the benefits they provide to veterans returning to academia.

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