USA — Troops Take Advantage of GI Bill Transferability

WASHINGTON — More than 100,000 requests from troops desir­ing to trans­fer their unused edu­ca­tion ben­e­fits to fam­i­ly mem­bers have been approved under the Post‑9/11 GI Bill, a defense offi­cial said today.
Signed into law in June 2008, the new GI Bill is a Depart­ment of Vet­er­an Affairs-spon­sored pro­gram that pro­vides the most com­pre­hen­sive edu­ca­tion­al ben­e­fit pack­age for vet­er­ans since the orig­i­nal GI Bill — the Servicemen’s Read­just­ment Act of 1944 — was autho­rized toward the end of World War II.

A pro­vi­sion in the new bill, which per­mits ser­vice­mem­bers to trans­fer their unused edu­ca­tion­al enti­tle­ment to a spouse or child, has trans­ferred “months of ben­e­fit eli­gi­bil­i­ty to over 240,000 fam­i­ly mem­bers,” Robert E. Clark, assis­tant direc­tor of acces­sion pol­i­cy for the office of the under­sec­re­tary of defense for per­son­nel and readi­ness, told law­mak­ers today.

“To date, over 105,000 requests from career ser­vice­mem­bers have been approved,” Clark said in a pre­pared state­ment to the Sen­ate Vet­er­ans Affairs Com­mit­tee, “trans­fer­ring months of ben­e­fit eli­gi­bil­i­ty to over 240,000 fam­i­ly mem­bers.”

Clark said the Defense Depart­ment plays two main roles in the joint effort with the Depart­ment of Vet­er­ans Affairs in addi­tion to allow­ing for trans­fer­abil­i­ty.

“The department’s first role in the suc­cess­ful imple­men­ta­tion of the Post‑9/11 GI Bill is the shar­ing of ser­vice data with VA,” he said. “We rec­og­nize the road to becom­ing a vet­er­an always entails pas­sage through ser­vice in the mil­i­tary. Accu­rate report­ing of that ser­vice is vital to the deter­mi­na­tion of eli­gi­bil­i­ty for all post-ser­vice edu­ca­tion ben­e­fits.” The oth­er role, he said, cen­ters on the abil­i­ty to offer sup­ple­men­tal edu­ca­tion­al ben­e­fits, com­mon­ly called “kick­ers.” But while kick­ers are autho­rized under the Post‑9/11 GI Bill, the statute as writ­ten does not allow the depart­ment to use them, Clark not­ed, so offi­cials have asked for an amend­ment to rec­ti­fy the sit­u­a­tion.

“To allow the ser­vices to use Post‑9/11 GI Bill kick­ers, we request­ed a tech­ni­cal amend­ment in our 2011 leg­isla­tive pro­pos­al pack­age for the [fis­cal] 2011 Nation­al Defense Autho­riza­tion Bill to allow the ser­vice to make deposits into the [Edu­ca­tion Ben­e­fits Fund],” he said, “and for VA to draw reim­burse­ment from the EBF for kick­ers asso­ci­at­ed with the Post‑9/11 GI Bill edu­ca­tion ben­e­fits.”

Clark said the Defense Depart­ment rec­og­nizes its duty to staff the all-vol­un­teer mil­i­tary with high-qual­i­ty, moti­vat­ed and well-trained men and women.

“As we move through the 21st cen­tu­ry,” he said, “we must con­tin­ue to build upon the remark­able lega­cy of the vision­ar­ies who craft­ed the orig­i­nal and pre­ced­ing ver­sions and improve­ments to the GI Bill.”

Speak­ing about the GI Bill last year, Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma said it was designed “to renew our com­mit­ment to ensure that the men and women who wear the uni­form of the Unit­ed States of Amer­i­ca get the oppor­tu­ni­ties that they have earned.”

The Post‑9/11 GI Bill, Oba­ma said in August, is as impor­tant as the orig­i­nal, and like­wise rec­og­nizes ser­vice­mem­bers for their wartime ser­vice and rep­re­sents “an invest­ment in our own coun­try.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)