In this 99th year of commemorating Veterans Day on November 11, VA has broadened that observance and appreciation to designate the entire month of November as National Veterans and Military Families Month. At VA, we like to say that every day is Veterans Day, but this month and year it has been especially evident as we begin implementing several new provisions enacted by the Harry W. Colmery Educational Assistance Act of 2017, also known as the “Forever GI Bill.”
The VA plans on sending out periodic communications trying to keep everyone up to date on the 34 provisions of the law. For example, they held interviews with 23 radio and TV stations across the country talking about the wonderful new benefits of the Colmery Act. Earlier this month, the VA outlined several sections that went into effect immediately. Today they are underscoring the wide range of expanded educational benefit eligibility for Veterans and dependents that go into effect on August 1, 2018. While that may seem like a long ways off, the VA id putting things in place now to ensure our Veterans are informed and the process is as smooth as possible.
Expansion of qualifying time for Post-9/11 GI Bill to certain Reserve and Guardmembers – The law expands the definition of “active duty” to include Reservists and Guardmembers ordered to active duty to receive authorized medical care, or to be medically evaluated for disability, or complete a Department of Defense (DoD) health care study. The expansion applies to service on or after September 11, 2001. An individual may use this entitlement to pursue a course of education beginning on or after August 1, 2018.
Purple Heart recipient Post-9/11 GI Bill eligibility – Servicemembers and honorably discharged Veterans who were awarded a Purple Heart on or after September 11, 2001, will be entitled to Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits for up to 36 months. This facet of the law closes a sort of “loophole” where Servicemembers who may not have otherwise had enough time in for full Post-9/11 eligibility are now fully entitled. An individual may use this entitlement to pursue a course of education beginning on or after August 1, 2018.
Yellow Ribbon extension to Fry Scholarship and Purple Heart recipients – Recipients of the Fry Scholarship and Purple Heart will be eligible for the Yellow Ribbon Program. This program provides assistance with tuition and fee charges not covered by the Post-9/11 GI Bill, such as charges over the annual cap for a private school or out-of-state charges. Institutions enter into an agreement with VA to pay uncovered charges (schools decide the amount), and VA matches the amount the school waives. An individual may use this entitlement to pursue a course of education beginning on or after August 1, 2018.
Expansion of qualifying Reserve service – Those called to active duty under 12304, 12304(a), and 12304(b) orders on or after June 30, 2008 may have this service credited towards their Post-9/11 GI Bill eligibility. An individual may use this entitlement to pursue a course of education beginning on or after August 1, 2018.
These amendments extend educational benefit eligibility to a greater population of Veterans and dependents who have responded to the call to serve – and sacrifice – for our country. This Veterans Month, and every day, we continue to thank you.