‘Forever’ GI Bill passes for future veterans

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Recipients of the Post-9/11 GI Bill—Chapter 33—currently have a 15-year time frame in which to use their benefits. Legislation to eliminate the current limit on using those benefits, and to improve the overall benefit for veterans discharged after Jan. 1, 2013, was signed into law by the President Aug. 16, 2017. While the, Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017, (Public Law 115-48) also known as the Forever GI Bill, removes the time eligibility restriction for service members and veterans discharged after Jan. 1, 2013, the 15-year time restriction still applies to veterans separated from military service before 2013.

The Forever GI Bill also allows Guard and Reserve members who spent time recovering from battlefield injuries to have that recovery time counted toward GI Bill eligibility. Future National Guard veterans called to active duty by their governor for federal assistance will qualify for Forever GI Bill benefits effective Aug. 1, 2018. Prior to this new law, National Guard veterans were only entitled if called to active duty by presidential order as a result of a national emergency.

Effective immediately, Guard and Reserve veterans who are receiving Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) benefits will now be allowed to “pause” their eligibility so their time under the VR&E program is not negatively affected while called up on active-duty orders.

Through this new law, Purple Heart recipients will be awarded full Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits, no matter how long they served and without time restraints. This allows those veterans who were injured prior to the minimum service requirement to utilize the full program, effective Aug. 1, 2018.

The legislation also increases Dependents’ Educational Assistance monthly payments by about 40 percent. However, the maximum number of months a dependent can now receive that benefit decreases from 45 to 36, effective Aug. 1, 2018.

You can find out more about what the Forever GI Bill means for you by visiting benefits.va.gov/gibill.