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Military Benefits – What Today’s G.I. Bill Offers You

militaryspouseThe original name for the G.I. Bill of Rights was the “Serviceman’s Readjustment Act of 1944.” The original Act focused heavily on two supportive benefits: financial assistance for tuition and mortgages. Today’s G.I. Bill has continued to develop into a comprehensive transitional assistance program that takes into account both the needs of transitioning military and also the needs of their loved ones, including spouses and dependents. The G.I. Bill began to evolve in earnest after 9/11, when educational benefits, including military scholarships, were expanded yet again and additional benefits were also added.

The G.I. Bill: Explained

While there are many benefits included for eligible personnel under the G.I. Bill, some research and advance planning is often required to make the most of those benefits. There are actually several versions of the G.I. Bill that are active today, the best known and significant of which are often regarded as the original G.I. Bill, the Montgomery G.I. Bill and the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill. Visiting the Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) website can help you identify which version of the G.I. Bill applies to your status.

The Post-9/11 G.I. Bill

The most significant change to the G.I. Bill that occurred post-9/11 is in the area of educational benefits for veterans. The change is so significant that the official name for the revised bill is the “Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Improvements Act of 2010.” These expanded educational benefits apply to all active duty service personnel or veterans who were serving on or after September 11, 2001.

Minimum Criteria to Qualify for G.I. Bill Benefits

At present, the basic minimum criteria you must meet in order to qualify for benefits under the G.I. Bill include these.

  • 90 days of active duty. Eligible service personnel must show proof of engaging in active duty (in war or peacetime, in combat or in other capacities) for 90 days to qualify.
  • Honorable discharge. Eligible service personnel must show proof of honorable discharge to qualify.

Your G.I. Bill Benefits

The basic benefits all versions of the G.I. Bill offered to military service personnel and/or eligible veterans include these.

  • Education/training and tuition assistance. Education and training can include higher education at the college level as well as applicable vocational training assistance.
  • Mortgage assistance. Mortgage assistance offers eligible personnel and veterans the ability to receive special mortgage rates.
  • Unemployment and career search/job placement assistance. The VOW (Veterans Opportunity to Work) and Hire Our Heroes (HOH) Acts of 2011 required additional unemployment compensation and career search/job placement benefits under the G.I. Bill.
  • Benefits for spouses and dependents. Eligible spouses and dependents can also access a variety of benefits under various versions of the G.I. Bill.

Transfer of G.I. Bill Benefits

One of the most important benefit components of the revised G.I. Bill includes your right to transfer your benefits under the G.I. Bill to immediate family members. These are the criteria you must meet to qualify.

  • Order the transfer to an eligible family member. Eligible family members include spouses and one or more dependents or some combination of both.
  • Six years of prior service plus re-enlistment for four more years of service. In order for the transfer to be valid, you must have already completed six prior years of service and be willing to re-enlist for four additional years of duty.
  • Already have 10 years of service completed. If you have already completed 10 years of service, you may transfer your benefits without re-enlisting for four additional years.
  • Retirement dates affect your obligations. Depending on your set retirement date (if applicable) the requirement to serve an additional length of time may be waived or reduced.

When to Access G.I. Bill Benefits

The military recommends that any active duty or transitioning service personnel begin planning to access G.I. Bill benefits up to 24 months before they will be needed. This incorporates plenty of time for preparation, planning, application and receipt of benefits. Proper pre-planning becomes especially important when tuition assistance benefits under the G.I. Bill.

By gaining a complete understanding of the full range of benefits you can receive under the G.I. Bill, you will find that the transition back to civilian life is easier and more affordable for you and your loved ones.


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