The Post-9/11 GI Bill has not only helped servicemembers pursue their education goals, but it has also helped millions of military family members enter the classroom. The ability to transfer the benefits to loved ones is one of the entitlement's most significant advantages, but due to budget cuts there has been a growing concern that troops may no longer be able to transfer the GI Bill. However, in a discussion at Marine Corps Base Kaneohe Bay in Hawaii, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel affirmed his commitment to ensuring vets can share their benefits with their spouse or children, Military Times reported.
A personal issue
In addition to feeling a professional obligation to protect the GI Bill as the Secretary of Defense, Hagel is especially committed to preserving all of its benefits because he was one of the senators who helped write it when it went through Congress in 2007 and 2008. Not only that, but Hagel used the Vietnam-era GI Bill after he separated from service. So even as the Pentagon looks to cut costs at nearly every corner in the light of sequestration, the GI Bill is one area that may not see quite the same changes as others.
"[The GI BIll is something] we want to protect in every way we can, because we think it is the right thing to do for our people," he told the gathered crowd. ""We've committed to do that for our people. We think it enhances our people, it enhances our country. It is a smart investment in our country. It is a smart investment in you, in your families."
Recent changes take effect
Although the transfer rights are still in place, they have seen some changes in recent weeks. On Aug. 1, in order for servicemembers to share their benefits with their spouses or children they had to begin adhering to changeds. Now, if they want to transfer their benefits to a family member, troops have to incur an additional four years of service. Previously, a 20-year veteran would only have to serve between one and three years extra. Army officials recommend signing up to transfer benefits even if they aren't planning on doing so.
"It's a really great program," said Kim Seldon, an Army veteran, military spouse and USO volunteer at a recent briefing. "It's worth thousands of dollars. I just hope all of the service members and their families can take advantage of the program."