Staff Spotlight: VA Certifying Official, Michael Veglianti
From Birmingham, England, to Scottsdale, Arizona, Michael Veglianti has made quite the trek, and we are glad to have him at Sonoran Desert Institute. Michael is one of Sonoran Desert Institute’s VA Certifying Officials, and he takes great pride in helping our veterans achieve their educational goals.
“I’ve never quite seen anything like the veteran culture in the United States. Veterans have a strong presence, and despite some shortcomings, the U.S. really takes care of their veterans,” said Michael. Michael knew of veterans in England but he had never encountered such a strong unity among veterans as he’s seen in the United States. “It’s really moving to help those that have served their country,” he said.
Michael first started working with veterans’ benefits at the University of Phoenix in 2007, and continued through 2017, until the University of Phoenix started reducing its staff. Sonoran Desert Institute (SDI) was lucky enough to acquire his services directly afterward. Michael’s duties consist of processing paperwork from other schools that students have transferred from, negotiating student debt from past classes or past schools, running calculations for student funds, and helping to verify payments. One of his favorite parts of the job is fielding calls from students. Michael had this to say, “I spend most of my day on the computer, so it’s actually a nice change of pace when I get to talk to a student who has questions or somebody who is having issues with their accounts. Really, I just love to help veterans. It drives me nuts when I don’t readily have an answer. So when I don’t, I will dig until I have it.”
Michael has a significant amount of drive when it comes to performing his job. He has earned his bachelor’s degree in business with an emphasis in accounting. He is also trying to find the time and resources to earn his master’s degree. In addition to all of this, Michael is taking steps to learn more about benefits to make himself more of service to those in need by learning TA as well as student Financial Aid benefits.
Michael prides himself on organization and maintaining a consistent process, but as with any job, issues can arise. “The biggest complications I see on a regular basis is when students transfer from one VA region to another without notifying the VA, if there is a VA account debt from a student’s previous education, or sometimes there’s just a delay in the VA office.” Despite the massive amount of records that Michael processes on a daily basis, he drops everything to help when problems arise. He maintains a dogged approach when problems do come up. “I do absolutely anything I can when a student reaches out.”
Outside of his professional life, Michael Veglianti enjoys soccer, rugby, and cricket. His favorite sports are not often televised in the States, but he makes sure to catch a match when his favorite team, Tottenham Hotspur F.C., is televised. He’s also expanding his taste and starting to enjoy American football. Michael is also quite the movie buff. “Man, I’m going through my phone here and realizing I’ve seen most of the movies out right now.” His current favorites are American Assassin and The Hitman’s Bodyguard.
Michael’s education is not limited to business, accounting, and customer service. He has steadily been learning Pokémon characters from his son and daughter. Like most professional parents, Michael is finding this learning curve to be as complicated and challenging as anything he has encountered in his professional life.
Sonoran Desert Institute had been privileged to gain the employment of somebody with Michael Veglianti’s experience in VA benefits. Combined with his desire to constantly improve SDI’s VA processes and his dedication to help those who have served our country, Michael has proved himself as a terrific asset and a powerful advocate for our students. SDI is happy to have him on board and looks forward to many more years with Michael on staff.