Seeking to restore fairness in obtaining GI educational benefits to America’s veterans and their families, Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) today introduced H.R. 2002. This bill enhances an already comprehensive and improved GI Bill educational benefit, restoring common sense to the current law and providing a positive recruiting and retention tool.
“I have the greatest admiration and respect for those men and women who have faithfully served our country. Our laws should also support and honor these members’ valiant service,” said Chaffetz. “This bill sends a clear message of loyalty to our service members that our nation will support them and their families for their selfless service, even if they cannot serve anymore.”
Under current Post 9/11 GI Bill (PGIB) provisions, service members may receive educational benefits that can either be used by the individual member or transferred to a spouse or dependent child. If a service member decides to transfer their educational benefits, current statute dictates that they must do so before retirement. Many service members, however, are being medically-retired before they have the opportunity to complete this benefit transfer. Service members separating due to service connected disabilities might not be aware of this limitation requirement, or may not be able to comply for reasons associated with their injuries. Consequently, the inability to transfer this benefit might not be the service member’s fault, depriving them of a benefit they have earned. This gross oversight in the law is unfair to our honored service members.
H.R. 2002 would amend current law to allow service members retired due to a service-connected injury or disability to qualify for PGIB transferability even after leaving the service. The proposed legislation would also extend service members transfer eligibility 36 months after retirement, with an additional 12 months extension upon DoD approval for special circumstances. H.R. 2002 does not increase costs, as the funding already exists for service members who qualify for the benefit and there are no additional costs associated with transferring the benefits to a dependent or spouse. The bill simply restores equality and fairness to the process, allowing the service member to determine who gets to use their earned benefit.