September 9, 2015, by Brooke Chaplan – This year, a government commission evaluated the benefits programs offered to military personnel and families through the VA. The commission’s recommendations could have serious consequences for military families.
If you or your spouse are currently involved with the military, you need to inform yourself about these changes to see how they will affect your future finances, housing, and educational opportunities. Read this blog post for a simplified run down of the proposed changes that may be coming soon.
Termination of G.I. Bill Programs
Of the nine existing G.I. Bill programs, the commission recommended closing two:
* the Active Duty Assistance Program
* the Reserve Educational Assistance Program
Increased Service Time
Currently, military officers and enlistees can transfer their benefits to a dependent after they’ve served in the military for six years and have signed up for four more. If the commission’s recommendations come to fruition, military members would be required to serve 10 years and agree to an additional two years of service before transferring benefits.
For military personnel and spouses reaching the six year mark, these changes mean that you could lose your ability to transfer benefits in the next several years. Instead, you or your spouse could face additional deployments before receiving compensation that benefits other family members.
Military spouses who divorce before the ten-year period is up, could also lose access to benefits and reimbursements under this new rule. It is best to talk to a law firm experience in military divorce like Rosengren Kohlmeyer Law Offices, who can tell you what kind of changes you may face with divorce.
End of Housing Allowance for Dependents
The new recommendations would also stop distributing the housing allowance to dependents. Since children often move out of their parents’ house in order to attend college, the original bill allowed students to receive a housing tuition while enrolled.
However, the move to online courses has made the housing tuition too expensive to maintain, so new changes would terminate this service for military children. If your son or daughter depends on a housing allowance to pay for school costs, you’ll want to make sure that these policy changes won’t inhibit his or her education.
Limited Tuition Reimbursement
Approximately ¾ of service members join the military for the express purpose of receiving education benefits. Perhaps due to this trend, the commission recommended limiting tuition assistance to only certain courses. The commission determined that only courses related to “professional development” will merit tuition reimbursement in the future.
Although the commission hasn’t explained the definition of “professional development”, those attending college should expect the military to reduce their school payments over the next several years.
Though these changes won’t take place immediately, the recommendations of the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission give a good indication of the direction the VA will go in the next several years. Talk to your commander, or local branch of the VA for more information.
Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most her time hiking, biking and gardening. For more information contact Brooke via Twitter @BrookeChaplan.