By Debbie Gregory.
Last month, thirty-five veteran groups banded together and stalled a congressional hearing.
The groups were in the U.S. Capital to weigh in on changes to the Post 9/11 GI Bill. They want change and to close some loopholes.
While they agree on more than they disagree on, the area of disagreement concerns whether or not to charge new enlistees for their GI Bill benefit.
The areas of agreement include:
- There should be a fix to a Pentagon deployment authorization that is unfairly preventing thousands of Reservists and Guardsmen from earning GI Bill benefits. About 4,700 Reservists and Guardsmen who deployed under Title 10, Section 12304b have been restricted from accumulating education benefits.
- Also in agreement among veteran groups is a measure to bring the mobilization authority up to par with active-duty entitlements
- Expanding eligibility for the Yellow Ribbon Program to surviving spouses and children of servicemembers killed in the line of duty. The program allows veterans to attend schools or enroll in programs that cost more than the GI Bill tuition cap.
- Expanding full GI Bill benefits to all Purple Heart recipients. Currently, a veteran must be medically retired from the military or have 36 months of active-duty service to qualify. There are approximately 1,500 Purple Heart recipients who aren’t eligible for full education benefits. If you’ve been wounded on the battlefield, you’ve met the service requirement.
- Assisting student veterans whose schools close. Last year, for-profit ITT Technical Institute closed its doors, and thousands of veterans who attended the campuses were unable to recover lost education benefits. The situation has also happened with other for-profit schools that have closed.
The major issue that these groups cannot reach consensus on which has divided veteran groups is the Post 9/11 GI Bill expansion and funding it. It has been recommended by some of the veteran groups that new enlistees would pay $2,400 over a two year period to opt into this benefit.
Some Veteran groups have described this as “a tax on troops”.
There will be further discussions between veteran groups on whether to charge servicemembers for the GI Bill.
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