To learn more about COVID-19’s impact on Veterans’ education trends, VA turned to social media, using the latest artificial intelligence (AI) technology to better understand GI Bill® stakeholders’ needs and priorities. Analyzing social media data is an emerging method that allows us to explore more than what a traditional survey could show, and it helps us collect actionable insight from an even larger audience.

What we found

After looking at 100,000+ posts from 70,000+ authors on public facing digital and social media platforms, we categorized the data into four main topic areas: health and safety, education and job training, employment and job market, and financial.

While data show an increase in health and safety concerns (91% citing COVID-19 as a main concern), the main focus of online conversation (62%) was on future-proofing careers and using the GI Bill to gain a competitive advantage in the job market.

Additionally, we identified the following trends:

  • Many Veterans are considering launching a career in, or re-skilling in, the advanced technology field. Data show 86% of GI Bill beneficiary conversations are about re-skilling and preparing for future jobs.
  • Many cite using the GI Bill as a vehicle for opening doors to job opportunities – with little to no student loans.
  • Veterans are actively seeking ways to remain competitive in today’s job market, especially during COVID-19. Data show a 60% increase in conversations that cite unemployment as a reason to use the GI Bill.
  • Many conversations credit the GI Bill with helping rebuild the country and seeding the U.S. economy with higher skilled workers. For example, there are nearly 1,200 Veteran Employment Through Technology Education Courses (VET TEC) program graduates today starting their careers in advanced technology with job titles including software engineer, technology consultant, cyber security analyst, data scientist and full-stack developer.

We encourage you to take a look at our GI Bill Sentiment Analysis Infographic to learn more about some of the most pressing issues for GI Bill students. Our recently updated COVID-19 FAQs include lessons learned from this analysis, and we look forward to applying this data to inform our future communications and programs.

Terry Warren is the stakeholder engagement supervisor at the Veterans Benefits Administration’s Education Service.

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Published on Jan. 21, 2021

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  1. T.Roberts February 12, 2021 at 2:53 pm

    Sir, Great question.

    I’d read ~ Aug 2020 of some active efforts at the VA for originally MGIBill to be restored w/o an expiration (per Trump) and those who already used post 9/11 version could return for the unused portion of the Montgomery…but, given the new Administration, it’s probably a dead issue. I’d inquired with the VA multiple times via help #tickets and email….all I get is auto generated non-responses via mail 8-10 weeks later.

    Uniquely, I’d served in the Marines just after Desert Storm and RIF’d out (thank you Clinton’s) in the late 90’s, prior to 9/11. I’d contributed the $1,200 for the MGIBill (Montgomery GI Bill) but never used it. I had >10 yr break, then re-entered in 2010 to deploy w/ Army. After re-entry they said that would reset our MGIBill clock (must be used within 10 years) and also use the Post-9/11 later…but only after we paid another $600 Kicker Upgrade to add on to old one. Shortly thereafter the chain of command had bad info and told us to switch to the post 9/11 Ch33 version because its better but after we did (the entire unit) were told we could never access the MGIBill even though we already paid $1800 into it (including the Kicker). Fortunately I was able to transfer remnants of the new one to my daughter however I’m totally out of benefits for myself – without a degree.

  2. Rodney M. Leighton February 1, 2021 at 10:04 am

    I would like to know why I cannot pass on the GI Bill entitlements that I never spent a dime of to my Daughter. I served during Vietnam and Desert Storm and Retired after 30 years of faithful service but because I did not serve after 911 I am not entitled to do this.? I can remember that in all my years of service NO ONE ever thanked me for my service until after 911, sad but there it is. I am also the Commander of VFW Post 8018, East Greenwich, Rhode Island.
    EMC (SW) USN Retired

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