New GI Bill Expands Veterans’ Educational Opportunities
If you were going on a combat patrol, would you put only two magazines in your three-magazine ammo pouch? The answer is probably, “Heck, no!” On a combat patrol, you want your magazine pouches to be full.
Preparation is key for many meaningful activities in life. So why do some service members transition out of the military and conduct civilian job missions without being fully prepared?
In the civilian world, not using all of your service benefits makes you ill-prepared for the mission at hand. Acquiring an education with the help of the new GI Bill may help you find better employment opportunities. Wise veterans will want to “up-armor” their resume with additional college experience.
Veterans Administration Offers Excellent Education Benefits
The Veterans Administration (VA) has an excellent website with lots of information on how to use your GI benefits for college expenses. Here are some key points about the VA education program:
- For approved programs, the Post-9/11 GI Bill provides up to 36 months of education benefits.
- If your release date from active duty was before January 1, 2013, there is a 15-year time limit to use those benefits. For individuals whose last discharge date was on or after January 1, 2013, the time limit has been removed.
- While you attend college, the following benefit payments may also be available:
- Monthly housing allowance
- Annual books and supplies stipend
- One-time rural benefit payment
- Full tuition and fees are paid directly to the school for all public school in-state students.
The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act
President Trump signed the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act, also known as the “Forever GI Bill,” into law on August 16, 2017.
Colmery was a World War I veteran and past commander of the American Legion. When he returned to civilian life in 1919, the only GI “benefit” he and his fellow doughboys received was carfare home.
Like many other GIs, Colmery worried about how soldiers whose lives were interrupted by WWII would be able to reintegrate into society. Many people stopped attending school and some had a break of over three years to fight in WWII. The GI Bill was to help soldiers adjust from the brutal war, and it was a win for the U.S. to increase its education level.
As a member of the American Legion’s national legislative committee, Colmery left his Topeka, Kansas, law practice in 1943 and moved into the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C. Five months later, Colmery emerged with the draft of the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, now commonly known as the GI Bill of Rights.
President Roosevelt signed the legislation into law in June 1944. Among other benefits, the law provided veterans with government-backed home loans and funding for their education.
The Forever GI Bill Expands the Number of Veterans Eligible to Use the GI Bill
The new Forever GI Bill makes significant changes to veterans’ education benefits. For example, it expands the number of veterans eligible to use the GI Bill to include National Guardsmen, reservists and post-9/11 Purple Heart recipients. It also eliminates the previous 15-year time limit for veterans who left active duty on or after January 1, 2013 to use their benefits.
The Forever GI Bill requires applicants to have 90 days of active duty after September 10, 2001. Some service members have used the GI Bill to complete their college education while on active duty. Others have found it wiser to use the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) first.
The TAP is administered by the VA and is available only to active-duty military personnel. Each branch of the service TAP funds differently, so it is important to read up on the TAP and the GI Bill before enrolling in school. When TAP financial benefits run out, active-duty members can switch to the GI Bill.
Veterans Organizations and Colleges Can Also Provide Enrollment Information
Education benefits information is also available from organizations such as the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW). Additionally, many universities have excellent counselors who can match veterans with their benefits and capabilities. American Military University’s advisors are well versed in all facets of GI benefits and are only too happy to answer all of your questions.
About the Author
James R. Lint recently retired as the (GG-15) civilian director for intelligence and security, G2, U.S. Army Communications Electronics Command. He is an adjunct professor at AMU. James has been involved in cyberespionage events from just after the turn of the century in Korea supporting 1st Signal Brigade to the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis as the first government cyber intelligence analyst. He has 38 years of experience in military intelligence with the U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Army, government contracting and civil service.
Additionally, James started the Lint Center for National Security Studies, a nonprofit charity that recently awarded its 49th scholarship for national security students and professionals. James was also elected as the 2015 national vice president for the Military Intelligence Corps Association. He has also served in the Department of Energy’s S&S Security Office after his active military career in the Marine Corps for seven years and 14 years in the Army. His military assignments include South Korea, Germany and Cuba, in addition to numerous CONUS locations. In 2017, he was appointed to the position of Adjutant for The American Legion, China Post 1. James has authored a book published in 2013, “Leadership and Management Lessons Learned,” a new book published in 2016 “8 Eyes on Korea, A Travel Perspective of Seoul, Korea,” and a new book in 2017 “Secrets to Getting a Federal Government Job.”