Thursday, August 13, 2009
Report from the U.S. House
Responsibility to serve those who served
On August 1, veterans started receiving college education benefits under the new GI Bill for the 21st Century (the “Post-9/11 GI Bill”). An estimated 2.1 million members of the military who have served on active duty since September 11, 2001, including activated reservists and members of the National Guard, will be eligible for up to four years of education benefits, including stipends for housing and books.
With Mississippi’s exceptional universities and community colleges, there is ample opportunity for veterans and their children in our state to benefit from this piece of legislation.
Last year, Congress enacted the new GI Bill to restore the promise of a full, four-year college education for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, making them part of the economic recovery. On May 1, veterans were able to start applying for a certificate of eligibility for the new college benefits at the VA website, www.gibill. va.gov. And this year, Congress extended those college benefits to all children of fallen soldiers (with no minimum military service needed to qualify).
Generally, the measure provides up to four years of education benefits at a college or university for individuals with at least 90 days of active duty service on or after September 11, 2001 who have been honorably discharged from service. Approved training under the bill includes graduate and undergraduate degrees, as well as vocational/technical training.
The benefits are correlated on a sliding scale to the total months served and to receive full benefits, you must have served on active duty for three years. This program will pay for:
The GI bill also includes rural benefits. This one-time, lump-sum payment of $500 is issued directly to a student who resides in a county with six persons or fewer per square mile (as determined by the most recent decennial census), and who either:
These benefits are generally payable for up to 15 years following release from active duty.
All of the children of service members who have died on active duty since 9-11-01 qualify for the full education benefit, regardless of the length of military service of their parent; these benefits expire 15 years after the 18th birthday of surviving military children.
We have a responsibility to serve those who bravely served us, and this full college education benefit for recent veterans will expand job opportunities for them, and strengthen our economy.
I’m proud that members from both sides of the aisle were able to come together on this key veterans’ issue.
For more information, visit the VA GI Bill Website, www.gibill.va.gov, or call toll-free 1-888-GIBILL-1 (1-888-442-4551).
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