VA partnership with universities and colleges to help with the transfer of military skills to academia, connect student Veterans to resources, and help coordinate VA care.
The VITAL initiative provides a multitude of services and benefits to student veterans through a partnership between the New York Harbor Healthcare System and local colleges. By collaborating with both university staff and the Veterans Administration, the program focuses on veterans’ unique skillsets and needs to maximize success in the academic setting. From tutoring, work-study opportunities, individual counseling, and assistance with integration to VA healthcare and beyond, the services provided are prompt, comprehensive, and above all, confidential. VITAL services are available at CUNY schools, Fordham, Columbia University, St. John’s University and other schools across the city.
Moved to NYC a few years ago right after transitioning from the Army. Had no idea how to navigate the VA so mostly avoided it. Decided to pursue a graduate degree and was introduced to VITAL at a student veteran event. VITAL has since helped me to both understand and navigate my benefits. I've also met a great group of other student veterans through this organization. Would definitely recommend to any veteran considering education in the NYC metro area.
I have a great time at Another Summit, thank VITAL for setting it up
Incredibly helpful for the veteran community at Columbia!
Vital brings a lot of resources to the table, making them available for veterans for whatever situation they may need it for.
Great support network for student-veterans. Access to many VA resources
Helped and guided me to resources that I need in order to have a successful college start.
Vital Program is a true ambassador for clarity on VA benefits and health care. They are veterans themselves so they understand what we go through and are very patient and read to handle your needs in a timely manner. Their director Dr. Branson has many years of experience and its amazing that what she does. They were able to meet all my requirements and help me step by step with the help I needed. I am grateful to them for making my life much easier and get the help I needed. I recommend them to anyone needing help with benefits.
VITAL has been of immense value to me. If you are a veteran and you are not using VITAL to help you navigate your veteran resources, you are missing out.
VITAL is such a great resource for student veterans! Many of its members are trained in counseling and wellness practices. Most importantly, its members are trained to assist student veterans with VA healthcare and benefits. Many of my friends have consulted with VITAL for appealing old or submitting new disability claims. It is no secret that the VA can be frustrating to deal with; however, VITAL helps to alleviate such frustrations, along with those unique to the service-to-school transition. VITAL was designed to make your life easier, and it is such a shame that it goes underused. I cannot recommend VITAL enough.
VITAL has been an amazing help for a veteran like me who is struggling financially in the city while trying to get an education. The VITAL team is very knowledgeable about how to get vets connected with healthcare benefits as well as setting vets up for academic success! I wish I would have known about them sooner, thanks for the help.
[Name Redacted] and her team have made a massive impact in the lives of veterans at Columbia University. They are the premier resource for veterans to utilize on campus, and I always have a good experience with them!
[Name Redacted] and VITAL have been integral in connecting me with VA healthcare and other VA services. I was previously ineligible for VA health due to the means test, but now that my wife and I are both students, our income has dropped drastically. [Name Redacted] listened to my concerns, provided a way forward, and connected me with the resources necessary to secure healthcare through the VA given my situation. She also helped significantly with preparation of my VA disability claim. Through the whole process the service I have received has been prompt, concise, and effective, and has helped me understand how to better navigate the VA system as a veteran graduate student. I can't say enough good things about the VITAL program!
The VITAL program at the NY Harbor VA has been my ally during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a transfer undergraduate student, starting school during the middle of a global pandemic was extremely difficult. A year in which remote learning, isolation from loved ones and the feeling of impending doom were status quo. Needless to say, things were not going great. Then VITAL came along. Towards the end of my second semester in college, I was informed of the COVID-19 vaccine being made available to student veterans. This was such exciting news, getting vaccinated meant that things would eventually go back to normal. Throughout the weeks, I continued to use VITAL services and leaned about the numerous benefits they offered student veterans. VITAL is a wonderful program available to student veterans. This type of organizational program should be the standard for all yellow ribbon/veteran friendly schools.
This is a great way for all veterans to interact with each other and help each other out. I'm glad that VITAL exists so that all veterans get to help other veterans. Its really a lifeline for all veterans. Only veterans can truly understand each other. Its a brotherhood and sisterhood that connects us all together. I'm glad that this program is put in place for us veterans. Its like having another family that really understands you.
Since I have known of the VITAL program it has been an invaluable tool to me and I have spread the word to my fellow veteran colleagues. The VITAL program has been an integral part of my development not only as a student but as a professional and as a veteran. 5 Star service and it will continue to grow and serve.
VITAL has been a great resource for me in my transition from the service to an academic environment. VITAL has addressed all manners of VA programs like tutoring, accommodation letters, getting connected to healthcare and much more. I believe it would be of everyone's interest to reach out to VITAL whether just starting school or continuing.
A great resource to use for transitioning service members. Peer to peer interaction and group meetings are very helpful for me and others new to the program.
This level of individual assistance and care is unmatched in the world of VA Health Care. Fellow veterans, please do not let this be one of the benefits you refrain from using or run from. Allow yourself to be helped and transition back in the right ways. i wish I would have accepted these things earlier.
Every military Vet should be using this program. This program has provided that additional support in order to successfully transition back into civilian life. It's a one-stop-shop to help veterans with all their needs.
[Name redacted] and Vital program are what every student veteran should have access to it. Not only this program helps to navigate you through school process, it also help you with anything pertaining to the VA such as benefits, health insurance, medication, claims. Vital program connects student veterans so this way community grows bigger and stronger and you do not feel alone, especially in the time that we are right now. I just started to work for Vital and I am learning how to help other student veterans and sign them up for health insurance and help them with all the accesible help Vital program provides.
Great experience! I got in contact with VITAL through my VA coordinator at school and I am glad he introduced me to this program! The lady that helped me was really nice, caring, and helped me but getting into contact with the resources I needed for the help I wanted. I would definitely recommend this program service for anyone getting out, as well as people who have been out as an extra resource to have incase you ever need help with anything!
Dr. Branson made transitioning and navigating the VA easy. VITAL was a tremendous help during my time in school, I felt a lot better working with a representative that only works with students from our campus so she got to know us a lot better.
VITAL Initiative and the team led by Dr. Yvette Branson has been a life saver for me. Along with providing needed resources for me to continue my graduate degree program (VocRehab, PSTD 101, Workstudy, Sierra Club Military, SWAN, etc...). Dr. Branson and her team of experienced veterans were patient, responsive and followed up to check my progress with the resources provided. I think there should be a VITAL Initiative in all states and made available to those about to retire so that service members can have a clear road map laid out for education and other needed services. Thank you and Well Done!
I just graduated and spent the last year as a work-study student veteran for the VITAL initiative. I happened upon the program accidentally, through a class assignment, and am really glad I did. I was looking for a community of veterans, and ideally female veterans, in grad school. Dr. [Name redacted] linked me up with other student veterans and took me on as work-study, which allowed me to meet many more student veterans in doing outreach. Simultaneously, she made sure I had everything I needed to sign up for the VA health insurance (which I did not have!) and then I learned how to make sure other student veterans were signed up for it too, so that they didn't have to pay the school insurance fees. Ultimately I met many other amazing individuals and a few new really good friends. Even though I am moving, I will keep in touch with several friends from the program and keep my eye on projects that they're doing because it's just inspiring. VITAL connects student veterans to services they need but also to each other, especially as an alternative to typical alcohol-fueled veterans functions. Highly recommend services through VITAL, work-study opportunities in VITAL, and keeping up with the initiative to find fun things to do and grow connections.
VITAL has been a great resource since my time in college and I only wish that I would've found about the program earlier. VITAL is a great way to meet veterans on campus and throughout other colleges in the NYC area. [Name redacted] is very supportive of the veteran community and always finds new programs that could be of interest to veterans such as food banks to volunteer to trekking in upstate New York with other veterans. VITAL also holds mediation classes and lunches. Overall, great program to be involved with.
As a veteran the process of reintegrating back into society as a student can be challenging. Speaking with [Name Redacted] was very resourceful when it came to finding out about benefits that are being offered to veterans like myself. Finding out about benefits like the ones [Name Redacted] and I spoke about can make reintegrating less stressful and more smooth. I think VITAL is a fantastic program which, sadly, most veterans never end up getting around to. Anyway you slice it, VITAL is here for us, and is very much, working hard to make life for us less stressful academically.
VITAL is a wonderful resource for student veterans. I was having a touch time in school and sought counseling assistance. It was exactly what I needed.
Vital is the organization much needed for veterans who are leaving the service and attempting to integrate themselves back to civilian/academic life. Vets are never alone and VITAL proves that as they are there every step of the way to help in anything you may need. [Name Redacted] and the initiative to push help towards the veterans of New York City is a precious asset that should be used by all veterans returning from duty.
Vital is a great service for student veterans. This service is dedicated and will go out of the way to accommodate you and your needs.
[Name Redacted] has been a very helpful resource for me. I recently attended her workshop on veterans outreach practices and it was very informative and engaging.
I was informed of this program through another student-veteran friend, and am glad I followed through with it. The psychologist was able to help me find so many resources and then some within the NYC area. She also made me feel like I have a good veteran-specific resource to reach out to should I have any issues.
VITAL helps navigate the huge sea of Veteran opportunities that a normal person wouldn't have known about.
There are so many resources out there and VITAL is one that can help you get those other resources. I didn’t know I was covered under VA healthcare until I found VITAL.
Vital has been a tremendous help for me as a student at Columbia since I’ve started a few years back. They have helped me with tutoring, wellness resources, etc.
I think the VITAL Program does a great job in bridging the gap between student veterans and the VA. [Name Redacted] and her team are motivated to help answer numerous questions regarding VA healthcare, education, and other VA Benefits.
The VITAL initiative is great in what it does by offering streamlined services to Veterans in the NYC area. I have seen nothing but good resources and great feedback when working with this program. Like many other services that help Veterans-VITAL is a unique program that helps those who are in need.
VITAL is a phenomenal organization. As a student at Columbia, Dr. Branson and her team assisted me with numerous questions regarding VA healthcare, education, and other VA Benefits. Also, I know they help provide free tutoring services, free counseling services, legal assistance, and housing assistance. In NYC, it's refreshing to connect with people who are down-to-earth and unassuming -- which is how I would describe the team at VITAL.
VITAL is an incredible resource. Getting set up with VA healthcare was very straightforward and simple, down to having assistance with making the appointment. It was such a game-changer to find out I even qualified, despite not having deployed to combat environs or a disability rating, that I took the opportunity to join the work-study program and help other student veterans receive services they might not have even known about! VITAL is almost a one-stop shop for anything: getting set up with healthcare, tutoring services, mental health, resource referral. Even if you are unsure if you rate something, it is worth the time to check out what VITAL has to offer because they are always up to date and plugged in with many resources all around the area!
I had a tough time transitioning from military life to student life but the VITA office helped smooth out some of my rough patches. Dr. Branson linked me to much needed social, medical, and academic resources. I was enrolled into the VA system during orientation. She also linked me with services for long-term and consistent therapy/counseling to help navigate everyday stress and anxiety. The office is super knowledgeable on the unique needs of the veteran student and I’m confident VITA will be a benefit to my school experience.
The VA Healthcare System, and more specifically Dr. Branson, provide a tremendous benefit to student veterans through the VITAL initiative. The work-study opportunities that I've received will change my future and enrich my experience at Fordham University. There is a wealth of knowledge about the VA systems--education, work study, healthcare--waiting to be shared with veterans like me. Definitely check it out!
[Name Redacted] is an AMAZING resource and it's a real shame that she is so underutilized. I'm a student at the school where her office resides and I had no idea she existed until I called in regards to information I searched for online. She is very compassionate, kind, and seems eager to help in any way and I am relieved she exists.
They were very helpful and extremely timely in response time! Best resources!
[NAME REDACTED] is awesome and very informative. She is very understanding and had alot of information.
I started my work with VITAL in my last semester at Fordham University and I wish I would have found out about it sooner. Vital has helped me get connected with a lot of benefits such as healthcare, workstudy and even therapy. I am a photogapher and have done some photography projects for VITAL which I am grateful for. I've been able to continue to hone my skills, while also extending my network and tapping into a plethora of resources. I would recommend this program to any Veteran!
Dr. Branson was a wealth of information. I’m so glad I was pointed in her direction. She gave me great information and was kind and understanding. I’m looking forward to our next meeting. Had such a great feeling after I left her office.
VITAL provides streamlined services to veterans. I was so impressed by the program that I was interested in joining the team in order to give back to the community. I think that there are so many opportunities out there for veterans, but the problem is that so many of them are unaware of the resources that are available. Sometimes you don't know what you don't know, therefore I feel that it's best for any veteran to reach out to the program and learn about what is out there. I think its best to pass on the information to as many people as possible.
Thank you for your feedback!
Bridge to other resources Get rid of the lower level contacts Impersonal, borderline rude
Hi, I agree, the lower level staff position has been eliminated. Thanks for info and please reach out again if you need anything!
I certainly agree with all the rave reviews. The VITAL Initiative Coordinator is especially caring and understanding towards any need that a veteran may experience. I have visited with her on two occasions, two separate matters, overall both uniquely positive experiences. She will go above and beyond when dealing with any VA item; whichever. Regardless, pertinent or relative concern. I can honestly say that she will attempt and employ all efforts; tremendously resourceful, truly an amazing experience. For whatever reason, there will be a friendly voice there; their approach is close and familiar, definitely I won't hesitate if any VA issue or need should arise. Thank you VITAL NYC.
VITAL has been a fantastic resource. The health coverage is a lifesaver and personnel have been helpful, considerate and highly pleasant to work with.
VITAL is an invaluable asset for veterans. A tip to those interacting with the program is to always ask questions. It's a bilateral relationship which means in order to fulfill your needs, you should be transparent and willing to ask questions. Moreover, the guidance and resources provided has made my experience pleasant, my only problem was that I wished I knew about this program sooner.
VITAL was the first VA resource center I utilized as a veteran. It's availability on campus and flexible scheduling allowed me to get the help I needed. VITAL has been one of the most important resources I used on my campus. Apart from personal counseling sessions, VITAL guides veterans on how to access and understand other valuable resources. Would definitely recommend vets to check out.
Veterans out there who are unaware of all the great benefits and resources that they can reach out to, should definitely take the opportunity and meet with the Vital representatives and get all the help they possibly need.
VITAL is a great resource which makes a Veteran transition and experience at school more pleasant. Whether it is counseling, referrals or any other issues, VITAL will find a way to help Veterans.
Vital has helped me leaps and bounds while participating in the work study program. I have been able to help other veterans with a large number of needs. It has helped acdemic, professionally, and help better me as a person. Would highly recommend the program to anyone
VITAL has indeed been a vital resource for me in my transition from military to student/civilian life.
I feel like this used to be offered at my school (one of the CUNY schools) and is not any longer which is something of a shame. I think it's a good idea to have a point of contact specifically for veteran mental health and wellness at the schools, particularly one who is a primary contact back to the VA. I don't know that I see as much of the point in them referencing other organizations outside wellness unless they are supposed to be an overall reference point for opportunities outside of the school, but to at least be a point of contact for different opportunities like VA resources and programs (and what is at which VA, which in NYC is important know), other holistic mental health programs, and even setting up an appointment with the VITAL clinician are all really important. I've seen resources like this really help some fellow student vets.
Great Program. Veterans who are in need of health benefits and a plethora of sources that will benefit them for a lifetime are now easier to access. Also, the VITAL work-study program allows for more flexibility than the VA work-study program.
There should be more tabling done to reach more vets that do not go into vital offices.
VITAL helped me to utilize/learn about resources available to veterans, ways to cope and manage civilian lifestyle, and gave me the opportunity to reach out to the veteran community.