New GI Bill makes the grade in Kaiserslautern
November 21, 2008
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany - Getting tuition assistance on GoArmyEd is something 1st Sgt. Crispin Bryant, 357th Air Missile Defense Detachment, knows very well. He completed his associate, bachelor's and master's degrees during his 25 years in the Army.
What he didn't know about was the new GI Bill (Chapter 33) or commonly called the Post 9/11 GI Bill, and that's why he attended one of the U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern classes held Nov. 17 to 20.
In observance of American Education Week, the garrison held these classes at each of its education centers on Kleber Kaserne, Rhine Ordnance Barracks, Landstuhl Regional Medical Center and Miesau Army Depot.
More than 100 Soldiers throughout the Kaiserslautern military community attended the four presentations - touted as lunch and learn classes.
"Knowledge is power, and as (educational professionals), we're in the business to empower learners - adult learners - to become the best that they can be," said Norris Johnson, the garrison's education services specialist at the Landstuhl education center, on the importance of these presentations. "With this information (provided at these classes), I believe Soldiers will be armed to go out and make positive choices that will not only impact their families, but also their communities."
Strong Soldiers, strong families and strong communities was the theme for this year's garrison-sponsored American Education Week events. Topics discussed were GoArmyEd, a computer portal that Soldiers must use for tuition assistance, and the Post 9/11 GI Bill that goes into effect Aug. 1.
Johnson told attendees about the new GI Bill, which boasts the most comprehensive education benefits package since the original one was signed into law in 1944. The new bill, Johnson said, goes well beyond helping to pay for tuition.
Many veterans who served after Sept. 10, 2001, will qualify for full tuition and fees, a new monthly housing stipend and a $1,000 a year allowance for books and supplies.
"Once you get your master's degree, the Army won't pay (further tuition assistance) so I came here today to find out about the new GI Bill and to get this information out to Soldiers who have not yet pursed their education," said Byrant, who attended the class at the ROB education center.
He was not alone. Sgt. 1st Class Diwata Reynolds, from the Medical Transition Detachment on LRMC, attended the class at the Landstuhl education center.
"There's a lot of information that I can take back to my unit and pass on to my Soldiers," Reynolds said.
Passing such information along is what the garrison's Education Services Officer Ramona Kausch asked all who attended to do once they got back to their units.
"Tell your fellow Soldiers to come to the education center - we are your first stop. Ask them - ask yourself - am I missing out on something great here'" said Kausch, a former Army captain, who has close to 20 years experience working in education centers.
All the presentations ended with the garrison's education services specialists assisting Soldiers with creating a new user account with GoArmyEd.
Spc. Billy Williams, 5-7 Air Defense Artillery, was one of about 50 Soldiers who created a new GoArmyEd account at the ROB education center.
"I want to see what classes they have to offer," said Williams, who has been in the Army for two years.
Also at hand for the presentations were college representatives from University of Maryland University College Europe; Central Texas College; University of Oklahoma; and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. They were there to explain what classes and degree programs they can offer to the Soldiers attending the briefings.
American Education Week was first observed in December 1921. It is held in American communities each year during the week prior to Thanksgiving to inform citizens of the accomplishments and needs of public schools.