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New Bill Changes the Lives of Veterans, Forever

New legislation to expand benefits and privileges of Post-9/11 GI Bill for both past and present service members nationwide

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New Bill Changes the Lives of Veterans, Forever

Trump signing the Veterans Educational Assistance into Law

Trump signing the Veterans Educational Assistance into Law

Trump signing the Veterans Educational Assistance into Law

Trump signing the Veterans Educational Assistance into Law

Anthony Karambelas, Staff Reporter

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Trump recently signed into law a landmark piece of legislation that will open up new possibilities for past and present military service members. Signed into effect in mid August the Forever GI Bill—formally known as the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017—will expand the benefits and privileges of the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

Current Cal State LA Veterans will now enjoy benefits that were previously limited or unavailable to them. According to information provided by Military.com, veteran students enrolled in standardized tests such as the College Level Examination Program (CLEP) and the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) will have their fees reimbursed through GI Bill Entitlement.

The law includes many facets, but only a few sections will go into immediate effect. One of these sections includes the revocation of a 15-year limitation for those using Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits. Previously, veterans were required to make maximum use of their GI benefits in the limited span of 15 years. Now, service members, including spouses and children, who were honorably discharged on or after Jan. 1, 2013 will receive these benefits with a lifetime guarantee.

The new bill also encourages students to pursue STEM majors. In the past, student veterans were discouraged from pursuing bachelor’s’ degrees in STEM fields considering that they can take up to five years to complete. Starting Aug. 1, 2019, the Forever GI Bill will grant STEM majors up to nine months extra Post-9/11 GI Bill funding.

Another provision taking immediate effect is for reservists who lost their Reserve Education Assistance Program (REAP) benefits under the sunset provision. These service members will have their benefits reapplied toward the Post-9/11 GI Bill program.

The final sections of the Forever GI Bill taking immediate effect include permanent authorization for service member work study and incorporation of the VetSuccess on Campus program, which will help veterans select schools that provide them with priority enrollment.

Under the Forever GI Bill, Purple Heart recipients—soldiers wounded by the enemy— will receive economic compensation. Starting Aug. 1, 2018, all honorably discharged veterans and service members awarded a Purple Heart after Sept. 11, 2001 will receive full Post-9/11 GI benefits for up to 36 months.

“At our time of greatest need, Purple Heart heroes fought and bled for us. Their battle scars meet the service requirement,” said US Rep, Scott Peters in a statement at National University.

Overall, total government spending on the GI Bill will reach more than $100 billion over the course of 10 years. To pay for this, housing stipends paid for by the GI Bill will be reduced to that of an active-duty service member. Individuals who begin using the Post-9/11 GI Bill Program after Jan. 1, 2018 will receive the United States Department of Defense reduced basic housing allowance (BAH).

Under this BAH, service members should expect to pay five percent out-of-pocket for living expenses by 2019.

The Forever GI Bill was passed unanimously in both the House and Senate, displaying the kind of bipartisan support that is far from the norm.

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