Friday, December 17, 2010

Altmire GI Bill Amendment Passes

As the U.S. Congress renewed the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill it also closed a loophole thanks to a change put forth by a Pittsburgh area Congressman. The act is aimed at getting traditional education benefits given to veterans into the hands of more National Guard members and Reservists.

When the bill was originally passed it excluded Guardsmen who served stateside. Congressman Jason Altmire of McCandless says local members of the National Guard brought this to his attention. Under the amendment introduced by Altmire and passed today, members who are called up for border security, natural disaster or other domestic duties can receive the G.I. Bill benefits. Altmire says by closing the loophole approximately 130,000 additional National Guardsmen qualify for the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill’s benefits.

“The point is that this is an issue of fairness, these are people who have served their county,” says Altmire, “ and we want to make sure that everyone who has served… is able to qualify.”

Altmire says, “America’s National Guardsmen provide invaluable service to our country during times of crisis. It is only right that they too should benefit from the largest expansion of veterans’ education benefits since World War II.” To qualify for the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill’s benefits, veterans must have completed at least 90 days of active-duty service since September 11, 2001. Until the amendment was passed only days served overseas counted.

The G.I. Bill benefit caps are based on the cost of education in the recipient’s home state. Altmire says for a Pennsylvanian that adds up to $24,000 in tuition reimbursement plus an additional $1,000 to offset the cost of books and other educational expenses. Veterans can also pass along the benefits to their children.

The law still needs to be signed by the President but Altmire says that should not pose a roadblock. It will go into effect January 1st.

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