Lorenzo Powell, Air Force veteran, serves as the student support specialist and certifying official for veteran students within MU’s Veteran Center. He actively supports students by explaining what benefits are available and how to apply them when enrolling at the University of Missouri.
Powell has found helping students properly utilize their benefits to be extremely rewarding.
“It’s common that I have first time users who don’t know exactly how to apply for or use their benefits,” Powell said. “I walk them through the process step by step.”
Read on for a Q & A with Powell.
How do benefits differ for active duty, reserve and national guard service members and dependents?
Through the Post-9/11 GI Bill, active-duty service members have 36 months of benefits to utilize. Dependents of active-duty service members can be recipients of the Post-9/11 GI Bill; they also have 36 months of benefits available. If you are a reservist, your benefit only goes as far as you go. If you decide to separate from the reserves, you no longer have the benefit. If an Active-duty service member retires, they are still eligible to use the Post-9/11 GI Bill. If you’re a dependent, you are entitled to the benefits transferred to you by the service member.
How does your experience in the military help you to establish rapport with students?
There was a young man that came into my office and asked me if I ever served in the military. He was at a crossroads and needed to make a decision about what path he wanted to take in his military career. I let him know that I couldn’t make the decision for him but could share my experience. Being able to assure students that I can relate, because I have been there helps me establish rapport quickly and offer guidance to help them be successful in their academic journey.
Is there a moment that stands out to you since you have been with the Veterans Center?
It would have to be when I speak with parents with a deceased spouse who left their Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to their dependents. Seeing the relief on their face when they know that their student will have educational benefits going forward. It’s rewarding to know that I play a pivotal role in helping relieve some of that burden by helping them navigate the process of securing their child’s future through the use of this educational benefit.
As a veteran, how has this come full circle for you?
I can relate to the students and how nervous and unsure they can be with what they are owed and entitled to. I get to assure that I can help steer them in the correct direction so they can be successful on their college journey.
What would you tell a student who hasn’t been to the office and is unsure about what steps they should take?
When you don’t ask, you do not know. If I don’t know the answer, I’m going to do my best to get you the answer. So, please feel free to come into our office in Memorial Union, N5. Walk-ins are always available, or students can email me at veterans@Missouri.edu.
*The Veterans Center as named to the 2023 Military Times Best for Vets: Colleges list.*