On May 28th, Senator Richard Bluemnthal (D-Connecticut) introduced his Veterans Back to School Act. Right now, as you know, the Montgomery GI Bill-Active Duty (MGIB-AD) has a shelf life; the benefits are only good for 10 years from the veteran’s last date of discharge. Sen Blumenthal’s Act would remove the delimitation date and instead give veterans up to 10 years to use their GI Bill from the date they begin using their benefits.
In a news conference at Capital Community College in Hartford, Sen. Blumentahl said, “The G.I. Bill has provided millions of veterans vital educational opportunities to improve their lives and careers, enriching our economy and strengthening communities at the same time. However, millions of veterans are currently denied these opportunities due to restrictive, unfair and arbitrary time limits now in place. Given the changing nature of today’s job market and economy, many veterans are now choosing to go back to school and receive additional training and expertise more than a decade after separating from the military. The Veterans Back to School Act provides a simple fix to allow current and future generations of veterans to use these hard-earned benefits whenever it makes best sense for their futures, families and careers.”
The issue has been, and still is, that veterans paid a $1,200 “contribution fee” when they enlisted to have these benefits. The hard part is if after 10 years the benefits have not been used, they expire and the veteran does not get any of his/her $1,200 back.
Once out of the service, things happen. Veterans start a family, life gets in the way and before long, 10 years have passed. Or maybe a veteran wants to go back to school to pick up knowledge on new technology that would help with a promotion. The point is there are lots of things that can (and do) prevent veterans from using their earned GI Bill benefits within 10 years of getting out.
If passed, this legislation would fix that issue not only for those with the MGIB-AD, but also for veterans with expired GI Bill benefits from Vietnam, the Cold War and Gulf-War. The total number of veterans affected by this federal legislation is estimated to be more than 2 million.