Legion wins fight for GI Bill changes

Legion wins fight for GI Bill changes

A concentrated lobbying effort by The American Legion and other veterans service organizations led to Monday’s Senate passage of the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Improvements Act of 2010 (S. 3447). The legislation calls for expansion and improvement of federal college benefits for veterans who served in the U.S. Armed Forces on or after Sept. 11, 2001. A House vote on a similar measure is expected this week.

“This is great news,” American Legion National Commander Jimmie Foster said. “This bill rectifies the inequities and shortcomings of the well-intentioned but incomplete Post-9/11 GI Bill and makes it whole.”

The new bill would add financial assistance for veterans pursuing vocational training and those in distance learning programs. Federal financial assistance, under the 2008-passed bill, is available only to veterans attending degree-granting colleges and universities. Benefits would also extend to include certain members of the National Guard and Reserve forces who did not qualify for college aid under the earlier version. Under the improvement act, students also would receive an annual allowance for the purchase of textbooks. The measure also aims to streamline the application and awards process.

The bill’s passage is the product of an intensive lobbying campaign by The American Legion that began immediately after implementation of the Post-9/11 GI Bill last year. Bob Madden, assistant director of the Legion’s Economic Division, testified before the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee in July and strongly urged support for many of the provisions that were ultimately included in the new measure. Foster emphasized the importance of the “fix-it” bill during his testimony before a joint session of Congress shortly after he took office in September, saying, “The American Legion urges enhancement to the Post-9/11 GI Bill that would give veterans a more robust educational benefit.”

The Legion drafted the original World War II-era GI Bill – the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944 – and was integral in writing the Post-9/11 bill as well as its latest enhancements.

S. 3447 was sponsored by Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, a World War II veteran and beneficiary of the original GI Bill.

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A66VnVet

February 3, 2011 - 7:31pm

I agree with you pgwveteran9091, I also am P&T and cant work at my occupational job of over 35yrs. I have asked to go back to scool to continue my college degree in civil engineering that I was originally paying for out of my own pocket because my GIBill time ran out for me. I feel that just because I am P&T, my "brain" still functions extremely well and for me to just sit and do nothing with my life seems, well its just a waste. I was kind of told that since I am 100% T&P, why should I worry about working anymore. I am sorry, I still have life left in me and to sit and twiddle my thumbs is just obserd. Yes, I agree with you, let us Vets that want to still make something productive of our remaining years, have that chance, dont just let us sit and rot away, there are still some of us Vets that are still productive.`

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December 24, 2010 - 11:47pm

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Robert Shepard

December 19, 2010 - 11:47am

Iam very disapponted that the American Legion supported this bill. It was basically jump on the band wagon, get this passed without looking at the details. I live in NYS. I was allowed a max of $12K per term at a private school. Now I am allowed $17.5K per year. My school is Fall-Spring and Summer I was allowed a max of $12K per semester, for a total of $36 K per year. Now I will receive a max of $17.5 K per year. A loss for me of $18.5k per year. I already started on the GI Bill, I should be able to use what I was promised until my program is over. There needs to be a grandfather clause for those like me to continue with the current program. I have two more years left and I will not be able to come up with the $37K that I now need. Unfortunately I don't qualify for the yellow ribbon program where I could have received some help. I will be leaving school after the spring semester if the president signs this. I feel like I have been screwed again. You can't count on anyone. Thank you.

Randy E. Stoker

December 22, 2010 - 8:00pm

I totally agree with you on the last sentence. Before the House approved this bill, I e-mailed Mr Patrick Campbell with the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of American (IAVA). His organization strongly supported the change and I asked him was there a "grandfather" clause for veterans already attending college. Since he didn't answer the question directly, it is apparently "no". Also, with the changes, the G.I. bill 2.0 will actually cost "less"; that is why it was approved so quickly through both Houses of Congress (Fast-Tracked). It is hard to believe that virtually all veterans' organizations supported this bill that results in an "overall/net cut" of total benefit dollars to the veterans.

Randy E. Stoker

December 18, 2010 - 2:35pm

The so-called Veterans Education Assistance Improvement Act (2.0), Senate Bill 3447, actually reduces benefits for some veterans, so individuals in other situations could get more. First, the private college tuition coverage was reduced, so potentially more out-of-pocket costs for some. Secondly, part-time students attending more than 1/2 time, but less than full-time will see their living stipends prorated and reduced, for some the reduction will be rather large. I'm attending a trimester-based university at 2/3 of full-time. My living stipend will drop from $1251 to $834, a monthly decrease of $417 when the bill becomes enacted next year. So from my prespective and other part-time students, the bill is hardly an improvement. For the future, I will make sure any mailers I get that come from the American Legion & any other veterans' organization go straight to the garbage can.

speterson360

December 17, 2010 - 5:05pm

Speaking of broadening the horizons for all vets, how about considering the change in the world of employment. Many vets being laid off and careers are changing dramatically. Education is almost a necessity for them to move into a new career. Unfortunately for many, this is NOT an option due to the high cost and/or their eligibility time has lapsed. It's time to take a serious look at this and offer educational benefits to those vets laid off because of the economy.

tman1087

January 28, 2011 - 3:13pm

The comment above is correct. Reinstate G.I. Bill eligibility for those who have had time run out on them! Write your congressman, I have. With all the programs out there today, it shouldn't be a stretch for them to honor a program that we paid into! What other program just runs out on you.... do I not get my Social Security becuase I wait until 70 to file for it? Do they take my bank account away becuase I left money in it too long!! We have got to write our congressmen on this. Just google and you can find out how to submit it online.

pgwveteran9091

December 16, 2010 - 5:47pm

This is great but how about some legislation that would effect ALL generations of vets. For instance, it would be nice if 100% P&T vets could fly SPACE A on aircraft. The fact that we cannot fly space A treats us like second grade vets, not good enough. It would not be any greater burden for the Air Force to allow this change. Then when we find out about experimental treatments we can have an affordable way to go to those potential cities for treatment. Another, why cant 100% use some educational opportunities? It's almost like now that I am P&T I am just supposed to be an unthinking vegetable. Let us expand our minds also and maybe use the time that we do feel productive to be productive. Maybe we can't do 8 hours but even an hour per day somewhere. Let's broaden the horizons FOR ALL VETS!!

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