Congress rarely votes unanimously on anything, but on Monday, July 24, Congress passed a bill that expands the benefits of the post-9/11 GI Bill. This new bill, the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017, is dubbed the “Forever GI Bill”.
Say Goodbye to the 15-year Time Constraint
This new GI Bill eliminates the current 15-year use-it-or-lose-it policy for all current service members. Now veterans will their entire lifetime to return to school and make use of their GI Bill benefits. According to Richard Sisk’s article, “House Passes New ‘Forever’ GI Bill,” the chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, Phil Roe, says that the bill “will empower service members, survivors, and dependents for generations to come”.
Good News for Reserve and Guard
The bill also benefits members of the Reserve and National Guard as they no longer need to serve 3 years of active duty. Additionally, the bill drops the 3-year requirement for recipients of the Purple Heart Award. Kevin Hobster explains on the Sitrep in his article, “3 Important Things to Know About the Proposed ‘Forever G.I. Bill’,”More than 25,000 National Guardsmen and reservists receive the full benefit, and survivors of service members who are killed-in-action are eligible for the Yellow Ribbon Program”.
Closing The Skills Gap
Mike Ricci explains in the article, “The GI Bill Gets A ‘Forever’ Update,” how the bill will help the skills gap. He writes, “The GI Bill update gives veterans a better shot at in-demand science and technology jobs”. This bill helps veterans take advantage of non-traditional technology courses. This will also allow veterans and servicemen to learn technical trades and pursue careers in STEM. Additionally, servicemen can extend the benefits of the GI Bill by 9 months if they pursue a 5-year STEM degree. Hopefully, this bill can help the country fill the skills gap.
Benefitting Future Heroes
Matthew Aulgur, a recent graduate of Brookfield Central High School, leaves in a few weeks for his boot camp as he starts his 8-year contract with the Marine Corps. He plans on serving 4 years of active duty and then 4 years in the Reserves. Aulgur is happy with the changes made to the GI Bill. He says, “I think it’s a pretty decent way to thank service men and women and veterans for their dedication to the country. It goes back to what the veterans of WWII were offered. It’s up front tuition pay and basic living allowance if needed”. These new changes to the bill will allow more veterans to reap the benefits of the GI Bill. “I think it’s great,” Aulgur adds,” It gives more opportunities for veterans and soldiers when they come home”.