Veterans office adds new position to process benefits

A new program coordinator joined the University’s military and veteran student services team this month.

Kellis Robbins, a 2015 alumna who has worked for more than two years in Veterans Accelerate Learning Opportunities and Rewards student services, joined the office’s staff full-time to help process and handle GI Bill benefits for student veterans.

Veteran students receive yearly funds from the Department of Veterans Affairs as part of the GI Bill, which can cover their rent, tuition and other expenses.

Victoria Pridemore, associate director of military and veteran student services, said in an email that Robbins started her new position April 1. Robbins will begin studying for a master’s in communication management at GW this fall.

“Kellis will have a direct student services role, helping facilitate benefits processing for the more than 1,700 VALOR students at GW,” Pridemore said. “We are excited that she has joined our team.”

Robbins declined to comment for this story.

Robbins is one of three full-time staff members now working in the Office of Military and Veteran Student Services, along with several student veteran employees employed through the Department of Veterans Affairs work-study program.

The office has not added a new position in at least two years, and Robbins’ hire comes at a time of turnover and change in the University’s military and veteran affairs department. At the beginning of this month, Mel Williams, the associate provost for veteran and military affairs at GW, left the University to take a position at the University of California, Davis. Officials said the VALOR office will now be moved under the Division of Student Affairs.

Yannick Baptiste, president of GW Veterans, said hiring Robbins will primarily help the office by aiding benefit-processing for veterans.

In 2014, student veterans from the former Corcoran College of Art + Design saw their benefits delayed in the merger when the Corcoran’s financial aid lost benefits forms for some of its veteran students.

He added that Robbins will not have a tough transition because she is an alumna and has worked in the office.

“The hiring of Kellis Robbins will not change the office too much,” Baptiste said. “She was already working there for Veterans Affairs work-study, and now will simply have more responsibilities.”

Mike Connolly, director of military and veterans services at the University of Nebraska Omaha, said adding personnel to help with benefits processing is a smart move by the University because it is a task that often receives too little attention in military and veteran services offices at other universities.

“The benefits side is a very important piece of veterans service that has to be done,” Connolly said. “It’s a certain level of staffing that universities need to pay for.”

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