Military & Veterans

In 4 years 745,000 have used Post 9/11 GI Bill

June 29, 2012
by Rick Maze, Army Times

On the fourth anniversary of the Post-9/11 GI Bill becoming law, the senator most responsible for the program says he is proud of the outcome.

“Educated veterans not only have an easier transition and readjustment experience, but they boast higher income levels, which in the long run increase tax revenues,” Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., said in a statement.

“The Post-9/11 G.I. Bill is the best veterans’ educational program in history. It pays for tuition, books and a monthly stipend in order to give our veterans a first-class shot at the future,” he said.

Webb, who is not running for re-election this year, campaigned on a promise of creating a modern-day GI Bill that provided full tuition plus a living stipend. He made it the first bill he introduced after being sworn into office in 2008.

“We can all take pride in saying that we have made a proper investment in the future of those who, since 9/11, have given so much to this country,” Webb said.

More than 745,000 Iraq and Afghanistan-era combat veterans or their dependents have used the program since its launch, and an additional half-million have applied for benefits but have not yet started using them.

This has not been a cheap proposition. The Veterans Affairs Department has paid more than $19 billion in tuition, fees, living stipends, book allowances and other benefits, and it anticipates costs will rise even more as the services — especially the Army and Marine Corps — draw down.

Part of the reason Webb was able to get such a major piece of legislation passed as a freshman senator was the fact that he enlisted the help of other veterans who had used previous versions of the GI Bill. He also found a way to outmaneuver concerns about the cost by getting the measure attached to an off-budget war-funding bill — another political coup for a new senator.

“We began with a simple concept, that those serving since 9/11 should have the same opportunity for a first-class future as those who served during World War II,” Webb said. “I’m very proud to say that we were able to do that and it continues to be a great investment in the future of our country through the people who have served.”