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Old 10-12-2008, 02:49 PM   #1
50cal
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GI Bill benefits can be shifted to family members...

Family members to get GI Bill benefits
Troops can shift them to spouse, kids


By Rick Maze
[email protected] ytimes.com
All career service members, re­gardless of their military occupa­tional specialty, will be offered the opportunity to transfer GI Bill ben­efits to immediate family members starting next summer, under a plan taking shape in the Pentagon.
While details still must be worked out, senior Pentagon per­sonnel officials said they expect all the services to allow members with at least six years of service to transfer Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to a spouse or children beginning Aug. 1, when the new program takes effect.
Transferable benefits include basic GI Bill payments — up to the cost of full tuition at the most expensive four-year public school college or university in the state where a person is attending school
— plus a living stipend tied to the military housing allowance rate, and a separate allowance for books and supplies.
“It will be available to the entire career force and will not be limited to those in critical specialties,” said Curtis Gilroy, the Pentagon’s direc­tor for accession policy, who also oversees education policy issues.
Although Congress gave the De­fense Department wide flexibility to decide who would be able to transfer benefits and under what conditions, Gilroy said defense and service officials determined that allowing benefits to be shared with family members is the best way to prevent large numbers of service members from leaving to use the full tuition benefits provid­ed by the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
The services were easily sold on the idea; the cost of GI Bill bene­fits for family members will not come out of their budgets, giving them a generous retention tool for free, Gilroy said.
Cost had been an issue in the past, making the services reluctant to use authority granted by Con­gress to provide GI Bill transfer rights as a re-enlistment incentive in place of bonuses. Now, without having to cover the cost or have their bonus funding reduced, the services have no reason to object to a benefit that Gilroy said will make a military career more attractive to service members with families.
The law, signed June 20 by Pres­ident Bush, includes basic guide­lines for the Pentagon to follow in implementing transfer rights, in­cluding the minimum length of service required before a member can transfer benefits and the amount of benefits that can be shared.
To share benefits with a spouse, a service member must complete six years of service and agree to serve at least four more years. To share benefits with one or more children, a service member must complete 10 years of service.
Spouses would have to use bene­fits either while the member is on active duty or within 15 years of the member’s separation or retirement
— the same restriction that applies to the service member. Children who receive benefits would have to use them by age 26. Ë
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