By Terry Howell
Senator Akaka’s “Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Improvements Act of 2010” (Senate bill S.3447) is moving quickly through the Senate processes and is currently slated for final mark-up in August. This makes it the most promising “GI Bill fix” so far.
The proposed bill includes fixes to most of the major flaws in the current Post-9/11 GI Bill. Issues like the exclusion of a housing stipend for online students (those taking 100 percent online courses); limited criteria for National Guard eligibility; restrictive vocational training options; an exclusion of on-the job training and apprenticeship programs; and inequitable and complicated tuition and fee payment rates.
Up until recently we have heard a series of vague ideas and rumors about the possibility of serious legislation to fix the GI Bill. But the fact that this bill is on the Senate calendar for mark-up is huge. It means we may see real fixes before years end.
In addition, the proposed legislation will make the choice to switch from the Montgomery GI Bill to the Post-9/11 much easier for most veterans. It adds more vocational and OJT training options, and gives online learners a stipend that makes the Post-9/11 much more attractive and aligned with the MGIB.
The proposed bill also includes a change which will enable Guardsmen who serve on active duty for State call-ups (Title 32 orders for operations like disaster relief and border control) and those who serve in the Active Guard and Reserve (AGR) to count their active service time toward their Post-9/11 GI Bill eligibility. This will remove the inequity from the original law which excluded about 30K National Guardsmen who did not have enough active duty time to qualify under title 10 orders alone.
Keep in mind that most of the details are still being hashed out by Senator Akaka and several veteran’s service organizations. A revised version is due out sometime in July.
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Please take a moment to contact your elected officials and let them know how you feel about this bill.