The patriotic fight over the proposed GI Bill for veterans returning from the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars recently surpassed a looming roadblock in face of an initially promised Presidential veto. On June 18, 2008, the White House retracted their initial position, and in a show of patriotism and putting partisanship aside, agreed with the House of Representatives on pushing the proposed legislation into law. Currently, the Senate still must sign off on the proposed new GI Bill, which is expected, and President Bush will formally sign the bill into law. For veterans, this proves to be an exciting opportunity and long overdue token of appreciation for their service in the two overtly controversial conflicts.
The proposed new GI Bill, formally known as The Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2007, S.22, has faced a difficult and uncertain future since its inception with the White House formally announcing their intentions to veto the proposed piece of legislation. Overwhelming support from a number of congresspersons, as well as sponsorship from organizations such as Veterans of Foreign Wars, Vietnam Veterans of America, and the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, has led to reversal of President Bush’s first stance on the topic.
Termed colloquially as the “New GI Bill,” the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2007 allows for a significant increase in the amount of spending allowed by the government to support veterans’ education following active duty tours in Iraq of Afghanistan. Mimicking the Montgomery GI Bill following World War II, the bill entitles veterans serving two years or more of active duty in Iraq or Afghanistan following September 11, 2001 to complete education costs at a public state university.
Currently, the existing condition of the GI Bill allows only $9,675 annually for education, which is much less than the national average for the cost of education, tabulating to generally less than half the funding necessary to attend a public, in-state university. According to statistics, only ten percent of enlisted military personnel earn a bachelor’s degree under the current veteran education benefits program.
Under the “New GI Bill,” eligible veterans will receive complete coverage of college education costs, licensures, or professional certifications. Along with all associated costs of a higher education a public institution, these veterans also prove eligible for a $1000 monthly stipend as well. Further augmenting the benefits offered by the original Montgomery GI Bill, the currently proposed “New GI Bill” allows a veteran fifteen years to partake in the proposed program.