U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, today announced his support for legislation to update the Montgomery GI Bill and said Congress must improve education benefits for today’s servicemembers, veterans, and members of the Guard and Reserve.
“The first GI bill was one of the most successful pieces of legislation Congress has ever passed,” Alexander said. “Millions of our Greatest Generation’s veterans received an education that improved their lives and helped strengthen our country. The bill I’m supporting gives us an opportunity to build on that success. After meeting with military and guard officials in Tennessee to get their input, I’m even more convinced that this legislation to update the GI bill is fair to our state’s veterans and will support military retention. Importantly, this bill will ensure that Tennesseans receive the same education benefits as veterans in other states.”
The Enhancement of Recruitment, Retention and Readjustment Through Education Act helps military personnel attend college debt-free and supports military recruitment and retention efforts. In addition, it ensures that Tennessee veterans receive the same level of education funding as veterans in other states and allows them to transfer education benefits to their spouse or children.
Last week, Alexander discussed recruitment needs and updating the GI bill at the naval base in Millington, Tennessee, and at the Air National Guard 134th Air Refueling Wing in Knoxville.
The Enhancement of Recruitment, Retention and Readjustment Through Education Act addresses several key concerns, including:
Fairness to Tennessee Veterans:
• Ensures Tennessee veterans will receive the same education benefits as veterans in other states, rather than basing the benefits on the average tuition costs in each state.
Supporting Military, Guard, and Reserve Retention and Improving Education Benefits:
• Increases the education benefits provided by the Montgomery GI Bill from $1,100 to $1,500 per month, beginning in October 2008, to cover the average cost of a 4-year public college, including room, board, tuition, and fees. Provides $500 per year for books and supplies.
• Increases benefits to $2,000 per month by 2011 for members who serve on active duty for 12 years or more.
• Increases the education benefit for Guard and Reserve members called to active duty since September 11, 2001, from $880 to $1,200 beginning in October 2008.
• Increases benefits for those members of the Guard and Reserves who serve in the Selected Reserve for 12 years or more and who continue serving in the Selected Reserve to $1,600 per month by 2011.
• Increases the education benefits for other members of the Guard and Reserves from $317 to $634.
Benefits for Family
• Allows Active Military, Guard and Reserves the ability to transfer education benefits to spouses or children.
• After at least six years of service, a member would be able to transfer up to half (18 months) of his or her education benefits to a spouse, children, or both.
• Allows a servicemember to transfer all of his or her education benefits (36 months) to a spouse, children, or both after serving for 12 years or more. This could provide up to $72,000 toward a dependent’s education.
New Support for Military Academy Graduates and ROTC:
• Allows service academy graduates and Senior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps participants, who currently have no GI Bill benefit, to access benefits, including transferability, if they complete their initial period of obligated service and then continue to serve for 5 additional years on active duty.