Washington, D.C – Student Veterans of America (SVA) announced today that it supports a lifetime GI Bill® for service members, along with other policy proposals to expand the GI Bill by $3 billion over the next ten years.
Since the passage of the Post-9/11 GI Bill in 2008, SVA has been working with a coalition of higher education and veteran organizations to improve the GI Bill for generations to come, including discussions that began in 2016 with the veteran community about a contribution component.
On April 26th at 10:00 AM, the House Veterans Affairs Committee will review a proposal which would expand the GI Bill and remove the delimiting date, a cultural shift away from the GI Bill being a “wartime” benefit with a time limit for use, and instead become a guaranteed component of service for future generations of veterans.
Similar to the Montgomery GI Bill used today, incoming service members would invest a capped amount of $2,400 over two years. In contention, the contribution component of this proposal would establish an opt-out system for new service members, while all others would be grandfathered into previous GI Bill education benefit programs. As service members invest in their education, the program would build over time and protect it against future cuts.
This proposal removes the delimiting date (currently 15 years from the last day of active duty) on using the benefit, truly making it a lifetime education benefit program. “Education is a lifetime pursuit and the greatest empowerment tool for separating service members. Our research proves it. Now is the time to double-down. We’re ready to secure the GI Bill today, so that veterans can use it 20 or even 30 years after they separate,” said Mr. Barrett Y. Bogue, SVA’s Vice President for Communications.
As a proactive measure, SVA set about finding ways to ensure the GI Bill was protected for all future generations. Our NVEST research shows that the program is valuable, and worth ensuring for all veterans to come. As the most recently transitioned generation of veterans, student veterans are ambassadors to the all-volunteer force and recognize the value of this investment.
“I heard loud and clear from thousands of student veterans after visiting over 165 of our 1,400 chapters nationwide in 2016; this is an impact-driven generation of veterans willing to give a little individually to get a lot for the future,” said Mr. Jared Lyon, SVA’s President and CEO. “We’re focused on thinking long-term and not concerned with the echo chamber of the DC bubble.”
“Don't be fooled by the rhetoric of a few; we've heard this before, where other groups try to create a false sense of outrage. We seek and continue to push for a consolidated, streamlined GI Bill that will persevere beyond individual generations,” said Mr. Will Hubbard, SVA’s Vice President of Government Affairs. “For those calling this a tax, where have they been since 1985 until today, as service members still buy-in to the Montgomery GI Bill? We understand the value in this proposal long-term because no one understands the GI Bill and student veterans better than us.”
In pursuing this cultural shift, SVA identified a list of features that the larger veteran population has sought for years. For example, student veterans pursuing STEM degrees would have an additional academic year of benefits, every Purple Heart recipient would become eligible for the GI Bill, survivors would see increases in support, members of the Guard and Reserve would experience an increase in their earned benefits, and all of this will be available for life as the delimiting date on using benefits will be removed—these are just a few of the many critical components in this proposal.
Veterans don't decide when their country asks them to go to war. Student veterans don’t believe wartime should dictate the opportunity for future generations of veterans to attend college. SVA and the over 1.1 million student veterans in school today look forward to working Congress and the veteran community in making this proposed expansion a reality.
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