The New GI Bill: Almost As It Always Should Be

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For our Veterans of Modern Warfare and on Aug. 1, 2009, their education benefits will finally make a four-year college degree affordable -- something that should have been the case from day-one.

Only A Year Away, But...

It seems that not all, is as yet, as it should be. Due to a variety of factors including the VA wanting to delay implementation because... (any veteran can fill in the 'reason' with any one of many, we all know and have heard all too often), the benefits provided under the law signed by President Bush on June 30, The Post-9/11 GI Bill, will most probably be less than expected.

Some in government have suggested that the kinks will be worked out in plenty of time. I would like to (at least) think they are right about that.

And The Other Shoe(s)

Those in the know have already suggested several groups will be disappointed as the details of the new law become clearer.

Spouses And Children Expecting To Use GI Bill Benefits: while the Pentagon demanded that 'transfer rights' be added, it appears this aspect of the program could be limited.

Those Who Have Already Used Their 36 Months Of Entitlement: they will never receive full tuition payments or the new book and housing allowances as there will be no retroactive payments.

Current GI Bill Enrollees May Continue Pay: This, even though the new benefits plan will be free.

Some 'Bill' Details

Served at least three months on active duty since Sept. 11, 2001; you're eligible. That is, as long as you have not used other veterans' education benefits and you served under honorable conditions.

Had no benefits before; you do now. With the 'you' including National Guard and reserve members with at least three months of active service, and those whose service predates the Montgomery GI Bill.

Full-tuition (housing and book allowances) benefits depend on tuition rates in effect in each state and the length of active service since Sept. 11, 2001. 90 days will get you 40 percent; six months provides 50 percent; one year, 60 percent; 18 months, 70 percent; two years, 80 percent; 30 months, 90 percent, and; 36 months qualifies you for 100 percent tuition payments.

The benefit will be paid to your school not you, as is the current practice.

The Post-9/11 GI Bill will be available for 15 years after separation or retirement, five years more than allowed under the current Montgomery GI Bill.

This Week's Almost Not Commented on Story -- I Know of This, Personally...

VA'S CRUEL BENEFITS POLICY: IF YOU DON'T ASK, WE WON'T TELL -- Lack of VA outreach costs World War II POW more than 60 years of benefits. When family files, VA loses paperwork and vet dies with nothing. A World War II veteran, was unaware he qualified for $2,700 a month and full medical and dental benefits through the VA because of his POW status. With the help of his family Jones filed for benefits but his paperwork was lost earlier this year. Jones died two weeks before receiving any benefits. How can this happen? Because the VA has no obligation to inform "older" veterans of their benefits. Until recently, the VA didn't notify any veterans about their benefits, but now they are required to do outreach to veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. While this is a good thing, those "young" veterans make up less than 3% of the veteran population. That leaves the other 97+% without any mandated outreach. Congress tried to implement legislation requiring the VA to notify all veterans of all possible benefits...but, VA argued against it. It's time for Congress to bring this legislation back. In this election year, we hear politicians of both parties talking about supporting the troops and caring for veterans...but, that's just 3% of the veterans. Iraq and Afghanistan vets get priority healthcare and claims adjudication as well as a special outreach program to inform them of their benefits. The older vets just sit and wait their turn in line. Anyone who served prior to the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan is truly "Old and in the Way."

--- Regards, Walt Schmidt