Matt Carberry (kingpin248) wrote,
Matt Carberry
kingpin248

A post about the mail.

A week ago, I received a small envelope from the return ZIP code 09578-2371. I know that sequence of digits well; it's the Fleet Post Office code of my former boat, USS Memphis. I knew what was enclosed...this:

That's right...an invitation to the decommissioning ceremony of the vessel that, for so long, I called the Submersible Death Trap. When the first news of this came out on Facebook, I was skeptical. After all, the scheduled date was the first of April. I figured that this was a ruse, and joked that the real ceremony wouldn't occur until 2022. But now that these lovely cards have been produced and mailed, this is really going to happen. And...am I going to attend? You're damn straight I am. I have one class on Fridays this semester, so the risk to my academic prospects is minimal. I cannot pass up the opportunity to kick that God-forsaken hunk of metal to the bottom of the sea floor honor the boat and its contributions to our national security. I'm also looking forward to seeing many of my former colleagues.

But that afternoon, I got something far more sinister...at least potentially. It was a letter from the Department of Veterans Affairs, whose communications I take care not to ignore. This one was sent in a pastel green envelope. That, in particular, alerted me to the fact that this one might be more important than others. And it was. It detailed various changes to the benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill. There was one provision that piqued my brain - the one that imposed a national cap on annual benefits to veterans attending private colleges. This cap, effective August 1 of this year, was set at $17,500.

This could pose a whole host of problems to me, or none at all. It depends primarily on how the VA defines the term "annual." If it's the calendar year, I might be seriously on the hook. They've already paid up for the spring semester, so there might be nothing more left for the fall (which should be my final one in Hempstead). On the other hand, if the "year" is August 1 to July 31, I might be able to play it out with minimal damage to my bank account, if any at all. Even if I end up having to pay a few thousand to Hofstra, I would likely do so rather than take out loans, as I have sufficient funds in reserve. At this point, transferring to another school is not in the cards; I'm too close to my B.S.

This has made me think back to the decision I made in the last week of July 2009, just after I was admitted to Hofstra. I elected to live with my parents in Northport, rather than on campus or in an apartment nearby. This has enabled the number in my bank account to slowly rise, thanks to the GI Bill's housing allowance, despite taking a significant hit by buying a new car a year ago. On the other hand, I can't deny that it has negatively impacted the non-academic aspects of my second undergraduate experience. The lack of time on campus, combined with the age gap (and attendant cultural differences) and my own personality flaws quirks, has lessened my opportunities for networking within Hofstra. That said, it's tough to complain about this too much, because it's largely of my own making. And in terms of importance, it takes a back seat to the primary reason why drive to Hempstead each weekday: the (supposedly) almighty degree.
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