President Trump signed the Forever Post 9/11 GI Bill into law on Aug. 16, putting the final stamp on the most significant improvements to the Post-9/11 GI Bill since it launched in 2009. Named for the past national commander of the American Legion who drafted the original GI Bill in 1944, the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017 sailed through Congress in three weeks.
“This lifetime benefit will allow veterans, and their families, to earn degrees and begin rewarding careers that can lead our economy,” said Charles Schmidt, current American Legion national commander. “On behalf of the 2 million members of the American Legion, we thank the House of Representatives, the Senate and the president for working together in a bipartisan manner to assist the fine men and women who have proudly served our nation.”
The Veterans of Foreign Wars also worked hard to make the Forever Post 9/11 GI Bill a reality.
“The VFW is proud to have played a key role in its creation and passage,” said VFW National Commander Keith Harman, “because the new law comes none too soon for more than 30 GI Bill recipients at a for-profit law school in Charlotte, N.C., that suddenly closed yesterday.”
The Forever Post 9/11 GI Bill makes more than two dozen changes to the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Here are six of the most significant:
- Time Limit. The bill removes the current 15-year cap on using the Post-9/11 GI Bill, allowing future recipients to use the benefit at any time during their life. This only applies to service members who enlist after Jan. 1, 2018.
- Purple Heart Equity. Provides full benefits to any Purple Heart recipient wounded since Sept. 11, 2001. Currently, only those who served 36 consecutive months on active duty are eligible for full benefits – even if they were wounded.
- Reservist Equity: Provides GI Bill benefits to reservists mobilized under selected reserve orders for preplanned missions in support of the combatant commands or in response to a major disaster or emergency. The bill also provides eligibility for reservists undergoing medical care.
- Yellow Ribbon for Survivors: Extends Yellow Ribbon Program benefits to spouses and dependents of service members killed in action and are Fry scholarship recipients.
- Lost Benefits: Restores GI Bill benefits to students whose schools close permanently.
- STEM: Provides extra GI Bill benefits for students pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering or math (STEM).
The $3 billion bill will be paid for by reducing student monthly housing allowances (MHA) to match reductions in the Basic Housing Allowance (BHA) for active duty troops.
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