Score one for New Veterans everywhere. President George Bush signed the newest GI Bill this week to make it into law. Called the 21st Century GI Bill, this action begins the first of many necessary steps in compensating New Veterans for military service to their country during wartime.
Veterans and Veterans Groups have struggled for over a year to make sure that all new Veterans since 9-11 receive the full access to the benefits that they have earned. Those who fought for this 21st Century GI Bill strove for all encompassing benefits similar to the original GI Bill of Rights enacted after World War II. The original GI Bill paid for 100% of a Veteran's college education
In recent years, the Montgomery GI Bill has fallen way short of the original GI Bill's intent of covering the cost of education for its war Veterans. Many Veterans who used their Montgomery GI Bill to pay for their degree were required to supplement the cost of tuition with loans. The New GI Bill is a successful attempt to remedy this situation for our newest war Veterans.
Some of the top highlights of the 21st Century GI Bill include:
-highest in-state undergraduate tuition
-variable housing allowance
-$1000 a year for books
-benefits transferable to dependents
It should be noted that to be eligible, the service member must have served a minimum of three years since 9-11 on active duty. If so, that service member will be eligible for all of the benefits under certain conditions. The new GI Bill is scheduled to go fully active in August of 2009.
Prior to President Bush signing the bill, there was considerable controversy concerning the potential for soldiers leaving service early to take advantage of the bill. Proponents for the bill argued than any potential loss of current soldiers would be offset by new enlistments due to the incentives offered with the 21st Century GI Bill.
Only time will tell which "side" is ultimately right. Regardless of future losses and/or enlistments, the newest Veterans of our "War on Terror" will be the recipients…finally…of that which they have earned, and that which they deserve.
Think about the far reaching and positive effects of what the original GI Bill accomplished for this country. We can now look forward to our Veterans making lasting impact far into this countries future.
All regulations for the new GI Bill have not been written, so solidification of use and eligibility in all situations has not been nailed down. Stay tuned for much more information to follow as it becomes available.
(Editor's Note: Take a peek at the website below for a Q & A with Eric Hilleman from the VFW for some interesting information and insights)
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