(U.S. Senate) – U.S. Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), introduced legislation to restore eligibility to servicemembers seeking to transfer their educational benefits to dependents.
Last summer, the Department of Defense issued a new policy that requires servicemembers to commit an additional four years of military service at the time of their application to transfer benefits. The policy change also prevents servicemembers with more than sixteen years of military service from transferring education benefits to their eligible dependents. Previously, any servicemember who had served for six years was eligible to transfer their benefits to an eligible dependent.
The Post-9/11 GI Bill Transferability Entitlement Act would ensure that all servicemembers who have completed ten years of service in the Armed Forces are eligible to transfer their benefits to dependents at any time – both while serving on active duty and as a veteran – providing a comprehensive fix to the Administration’s unfair, broken policy.
“The law should make it easier, not harder, for servicemembers to use the benefits they’ve earned in a way that makes the most sense for them and their families,” said Tester, Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “Our bill ensures that the men and women in uniform—who served our nation for years— are able to transfer their G.I. Bill education benefits to their loved ones without unnecessary hurdles. I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this bill, so we can do right by our nation’s veterans.”
“The Department of Defense’s confusing new policy moved the goalpost for transfer eligibility, breaking our promise to military families. Disqualifying servicemembers with more than sixteen years of military services penalizes the men and women who have served this country in uniform for the greatest length of time. This policy change is fundamentally illogical and unfair, and exacerbates existing inequities in the transfer of education benefits – it should be remedied immediately by passing our bill,” Blumenthal said.
“It’s our duty to ensure that when servicemembers, who sacrifice for our nation, return home, they and their families can receive the education and training they’ve earned,” Brown said.
This legislation is supported by the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States, the Reserve Enlisted Association, the Naval Enlisted Reserve Association, and the Chief Warrant and Warrant Officers Association.
“The men and women that protect our way of life often do not come from generational wealth, and they have earned the right to pass on what they have earned to their family,” explained Daniel Elkins, Legislative Director of the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States.
“The legislation will address inequities and restrictions in transferring GI Bill benefits from service members to spouses and children. With the Department of Defense transfer deadline approaching in January, now is the time to act,” said Ken Greenberg, Director of Veterans and Military Policy for TREA: The Enlisted Association.
“This is a sensible solution that will help our veterans and their families far into the future. If the benefit has already been earned, it only makes sense to honor that veteran’s service by allowing them to transfer the benefit to their dependents,” said Paul Tarbox, an Operation Iraqi Freedom Veteran from Orange, Connecticut who served in the U.S. Army and Connecticut Army National Guard between 1999 and 2009.