As a veteran, you probably think you're used to bureaucracy. Not quite. You're used to military bureaucracy. At college, especially a big college, and you're stepping into a whole new organizational quagmire.
"‘Who's in charge?' — we get that a lot," said Tony Dotson, director of the Veterans Resource Center at the University of Kentucky. "Unlike the military, there is no ultimate authority."
For example, Dotson noted, a school's academic chain of command, headed by the provost, is separate from its administrative chain of command, headed by the president.
Schools are organized in different ways, but here are a few common offices you should be familiar with:
Veterans Resource Center: An invaluable point of contact for academic advice and benefits questions — if your school has one.
Registrar: Responsible for academic records; handles registration, withdrawals and transcript requests. There's a good chance your school's Veterans Affairs Department certifying official works here.
Financial Aid: Processes scholarships, grants and other financial aid, including, most likely, the Yellow Ribbon program. Another good bet for finding the VA certifying official.
Counseling Center: Provides personal, group, academic, career and/or psychiatric counseling to students.
Disability Services: Coordinates accommodations for students with physical and mental disabilities.
Academic colleges: Assign academic advisers, each student's first link in the chain of command for academic problems; headed by a dean.
Ombudsman: Comparable to a military inspector general; investigates complaints and acts as a liaison between parties.