New Association aims
to help those who have served
By Alexandria Rodriguez / Reporter
Each semester about 1,000 students at Del Mar College use veterans benefits, according to Tammy Micallef, coordinator of the college’s Veterans Center.
To find out if they are eligible for benefits, veterans have to contact the Department of Veterans Affairs, which will send them a letter notifying them what benefits they are eligible for.
“Once they receive a letter from the VA that tells them what they are eligible for, they bring it here, and we process that benefit for them” Micallef said. “For Texas benefits, which is Hazlewood, they have to bring in a copy of their DD214 and we verify that their service originated in Texas.”
If the veteran is 100 percent disabled, their spouse and children can be automatically eligible for their own 150 hours of the Hazlewood benefit. If they want to transfer their benefits to a child, they can be transferable, one child at a time if the child is under 26, according to Micallef.
If veterans have three years of active service, honorable, and have separated since Aug. 1, 1990, they can be exempt from having to take the TSI, or Texas Success Initiative. According to Micallef, being exempt places their English, writing and math levels at 3, which grandfathers them and makes them eligible for college level work.
The Texas Success Initiative is required by students attending public institutions in Texas. The law requires all incoming students to be assessed for college readiness in reading, writing and math, unless they qualify for exemption, according to Delmar.edu.
The Veterans Center also has a success network that meets on both the West and East Campus. The purpose is to make sure the students are successful with their studies.
“The whole idea is to get people together and network with each other and be able to help each other be successful,” Micallef said. “Whether they need tutoring, counseling, or help finding a babysitter.”
Rodney Garza, a veteran and occupational safety and health major, said the benefits he has received have really helped him.
“It pays for my tuition and gives me money to survive every month,” Garza said, “I get to pay my bills and come to school.”
The Veterans Center has established a student veterans association. It is a new college club on campus, according to Micallef.
“There is also a resource center located on the West Campus for veteran students. There is a lounge area, there are computers, and we have tutors there,” Micallef said. “Hopefully within the next semester or so we will be opening another center like that for the veterans here on the East Campus.”