GI Bill Under Attack Again: Veterans Sound Alarm to Public
The Department of Defense has issued a stunning, damaging new policy that will limit the ability of troops to transfer their hard-earned Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to their family members. This new restriction impacts service members with more than 16 years of service and is a completely unnecessary attack on this critical benefit , and ultimately hurts our military recruitment and readiness. In a time of war, it remains critically important to recruit and retain qualified service members, especially with an ever-decreasing pool of eligible recruits. And, it remains essential that our government honor it’s promise to our veterans. Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the leading voice of the Post-9/11 generation of veterans, has long been a leader on creating, supporting and defending the GI Bill, and calls on the Department of Defense and Secretary Mattis to immediately reverse the policy, and put military veterans and their families first, instead of creating barriers to access deserved and transformative benefits.
Alongside our VSO partners, IAVA led the fight to establish not only the Post-9/11 GI Bill, but this very provision on transferability. Without consulting IAVA or our nation’s veterans, DoD has implemented a policy that undermines the great achievements veterans have made to the GI Bill and undermines the law. The new policy is at odds with the spirit and intent of Congress, which just last year enacted legislation to remove the 15 year use-it-or-lose-it time limit on using the GI Bill. The 2017 “Forever GI Bill” removed time limits on using the benefit, which was celebrated by veterans and military service organizations and veterans nationwide.
Tomorrow, IAVA will stand with other leading veterans service organizations, NY Public Advocate Tish James and others, at a press conference in New York City to bring focus to this and related issues. New York is the home of IAVA’s headquarters and a state with one of the largest student veteran populations in America.
Date: Tuesday, July 17, 2018
Time: 3:00pm – 4:00pm EST
Location: 1 Centre Street North, New York, NY
“Here we go again. This is outrageous–but predictable. Again, our GI Bill is under attack. Again, the promise is being broken. Again, bean counters in Washington are trying to save pennies by chipping away at the most success earned benefit in American history. Shockingly, the DoD is going against the interest of veterans, the military and Congress, and damaging hard-fought progress made for veterans,” said Paul Rieckhoff, Founder and CEO of IAVA . “Veterans advocates have been working tirelessly to ensure all veterans, and family members, get the benefits they’ve earned. Limitations on those benefits hurt our readiness, hurt our recruitment, hurt morale, and are bad for military families. That’s why we call on DoD to immediately act to rescind this new policy. If they don’t, we’re calling on Congress and President Trump to stand with our members and force DoD to fix this. Veterans are tired of having to protect the very benefits we were promised when we signed up to serve. Whether the attacks or big or small, we long ago drew a line in the sand. We will not allow our GI Bill to be eroded, cut or dismantled. We will #DefendTheGIBill. We’ll continue to hold the line, because we understand that our brothers and sisters in arms deserve it.”
NYC Veterans Alliance Founder and Afghanistan Veteran Kristen Rouse added , “Despite the tremendous benefits included in today’s GI Bill, student veterans are too often left alone to navigate an incredibly complex, confusing, and sometimes predatory higher education system–while also facing the challenges of finding affordable housing and a social network to help support their success. City government must marshal all available resources to ensure student veterans attain the full value of the federal and state educational benefits they’ve earned. This bill sets in place the right resources and information to help student veterans succeed and take advantage of the wealth of opportunities that NYC offers. We strongly support this bill and thank Public Advocate Tish James for her leadership and continued support in making NYC a better place for veterans and our families.”
IAVA led the passage of the Post-9/11 GI Bill in 2008, served as a watchdog for implementation in 2009, and in championing upgrades in 2010 and 2014. These upgrades simplified and improved tuition benefits, expanded eligibility to the National Guard, included vocational programs, and made nationwide in-state tuition rates a possibility for new veterans. In 2017, and a number of times since, IAVA has fought attacks, fees and taxes to this earned benefit in support of their ongoing #DefendTheBill campaign.
The Post-9/11 GI Bill has been used by at least 1.5 million veterans and their family members to accomplish educational goals and chart new career paths. In 2016, IAVA’s year-long campaign to #DefendtheGIBill effectively killed over $4 billion in attempted cuts to the Post-9/11 GI Bill by the 114th Congress.
Just last year, IAVA and its allies again rallied and successfully stopped a newly proposed plan to impose huge new fees on users of the Post-9/11 GI Bill. After leading a nationwide and coordinated grassroots, social media and press campaign anchored by the hashtag #DefendTheGIBill, IAVA members succeeded in defending their earned benefits from a ridiculous proposal to nickel and dime our brothers and sisters in a time of war. Recently, Congressional leaders circulated a draft proposal for a bill that would absurdly require new military enlistees to pay $2,400, at $100 a month over two years, to gain their GI Bill benefit.
Defending the GI Bill is a priority among IAVA’s Big 6 Advocacy Priorities for 2018, along with combating suicide, support for women veterans, reforming the VA, recognizing burn pits and other toxic exposures and empowering veterans to utilize medical cannabis.