Millions of men and women serve in the Armed Forces every year.
They sacrifice their lives, blood, sweat and tears to protect the countries citizens. They travel the world squashing battles, preventing terrorist threats, fighting wars, implementing peacekeeping initiatives, training militaries and executing any number of tasks to make this world a safer place.
Being in the Army, navy, marines or Air Force is not an easy job.
It requires sacrifice.
And sacrifice they do. Their families sacrifice. Their husbands and wives sacrifice and their children. They are often away from the people they love. They give up time and miss the births, birthdays and important events of their children’s lives.
Spouses shoulder majority of the burden at home and they do so bravely. It is not easy being married to a person in the military and sometimes; it is not easy being married when they get home.
Veterans return home, oftentimes with many needs.
They need financial, medical, psychological and other types of aid to help them adjust to life back home. For this reason, the government provides benefits, which are specific only for veterans to help them in whatever way they need.
What Are the GI Bill Benefits?
One such initiative is the GI Bill benefits. This is an education benefit that is accessed by National Guard Armed Forces, Selected Reserve and Active Duty personnel.
Their families also partake of the initiative.
The GI Bill benefits program facilitates service members in addition to qualified veterans who need help in paying for their training or education.
There are several sub-programs within the overarching program.
- Vocational Rehabilitation and Education Program
- Reserve and Guard Montgomery GI Bill
- Active Duty Montgomery GI Bill
- Post-9/11 GI Bill
- Fry Scholarship
- Dependents’ Education Assistance (DEA)
There are different guidelines on how service members in addition to qualified veterans can access each sub-program.
The last two programs on the list are there to help widows and their families or families that have disabled veterans, who were the main income earners.
Funds from these programs cover test-taking expenses, work-study programs, assistance with paying for tuition or licenses. It also pays for degree programs or on-the-job training as well.
The Passing of the GI Bill Legislation
The House tremendously pushed through a new law that will allow veterans to have more flexibility when it comes to their GI Bill benefits and using it to take care of tuition costs.
All 405 lawmakers backed the initiative, and it is now at the Senate level and then on to the President.
The updated policy removes the restrictions that limit when veterans and service members use their benefits because the previous limit was capped at 15 years. This means that those service members who were discharged after January 2013, can partake of their GI Bill benefits at any time.
In addition, there is also stipulation included for Purple Heart recipients and veterans who enrolled post-9/11.
Republican Phil Roe, who is the House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman, said, “For the first time in history of our GI Bill, future beneficiaries and some veterans will be able to carry these benefits with them throughout their life.”
Changes for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) also followed suit.
A number of bills implemented strict changes including how bonuses are allocated to senior executives.
However, just before another facet, the GI expansion measure, was passed, Democrats blocked it. The Veterans Choice Program required a $2 billion funding extension, and the legislation was in favor of expediting the process.
But Democrats said no.
Specific line items under the veterans’ health care fall under this Program. However, the existing budget will exhaust itself by mid-August.
A two-thirds majority was necessary to pass this legislation, but only got a vote of 219 to 186.
The Democratic leadership had concerns about the legislation. They foresaw that the amount stipulated would not be sufficient and that more was necessary to cover the demand.
What is the Alternative?
Some organizations that advocate on behalf of veterans believed that the legislation was actually facilitating the privatization of Department of Veterans Affairs.
Whip Steny Hoyer, who is in the House Minority, reported that, “Instead of rushing through an inadequate bill that does not address critical funding issues the VA is facing, Republicans should not force the House to vote on this bill today. But instead, allow the House and Senate to continue to work toward a bipartisan solution that can pass both chambers as well as receive support from [veterans’ service organizations].”
In the coming days, The House will review a number of spending packages and this issue from the VA is on the list.
As the House originally pushed through the GI Bill Benefits, it is expected that a bipartisan solution will come through as well.