Army answering flood of GI Bill questions
October 2, 2009
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Oct. 2, 2009) -- Three Soldiers in the Army's Enlisted Policy Division have been busy answering up to 100 questions daily from the field regarding the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
A new GI Bill Web page launched last week by the Army's G-1 has not yet stemmed the flow of questions, said Lt. Col. Thomas Erickson, chief of G-1 Enlisted Professional Development. But he added that "once the word gets out," he's confident the Web page will help.
The Web page at <a href="http://www.armyg1.army.mil/post911gibill.asp"target=_blank> www.armyg1.army.mil/post911gibill.asp</a> not only answers frequently-asked questions, but also provides the latest news, memorandums and resource material about the GI Bill.
"How do I transfer benefits" has been one of the most frequent questions e-mailed to his office, Erickson said.
While Soldiers must sign up with the Department of Veterans Affairs for benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill, transferring benefits is different.
Requests to transfer benefits to a spouse or child go to the Department of Defense on the official DoD Transferability of Education Benefits, or TEB, Web site at <a href= "http://www.dmdc.osd.mil/TEB/"target=_blank> www.dmdc.osd.mil/TEB</a>.
Once the application form is submitted electronically, it should be processed within 48 hours, Erickson said. He added that no e-mail or other notification will be sent, however, so Soldiers should go back and check the TEB Web page to see if their transfer has been approved.
In order to transfer benefits, Erickson said the servicemember must be on active duty or in the active Reserve at the time.
"Retirees are rightfully upset about that," Erickson said, but he explained that's the way the law was written.
"The other thing is: to receive benefits as a child, they have to be a dependent on the date the benefits are transferred," Erickson said. "Then the child can use it up to the age of 26."
But Soldiers who had children above the age of 21 when the new GI Bill became effective Aug. 1, could not transfer any benefits to them, Erickson said.
Once the transfer is approved, dependents aged 18-26 then can sign up for GI Bill benefits on the VA Web site at <a href="http://www.gibill.va.gov/" target=_blank>www.gibill.va.gov</a>.
Once active-duty Soldiers submit their application for Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to the VA, they need to notify their career counselors at battalion or higher level, Erickson said. Career counselors are service-certifying officials for the active-duty applicants, Erickson explained.
"We need those Soldiers, once they've submitted their request -- they need to go to their career counselors, so that the career counselor is queued and can go in and process that request," Erickson said.
"We're starting to field a lot more questions on 'when is the VA going to pay me,'" Erickson said, but he explained that the Army cannot answer for the Department of Veterans Affairs about any backlog of applications or payments going out.
While tuition and fees go directly to a school, Erickson said that stipends for books and supplies go directly to students. Stipends for living expenses also go directly to veterans, Erickson said.
One question answered by the new Web site is how opting for the Post-9/11 GI Bill will affect benefits under the old Montgomery GI Bill or the Veterans Educational Assistance Program known as VEAP.
The Web site points out that while Soldiers can qualify for more than one program, they may only receive benefits under one program at a time. The VA will determine program eligibility and, in certain cases, will require Soldiers to make an irrevocable conversion from MGIB, MGIB-SR, and REAP to the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
Soldiers must carefully consider the benefits of these programs before making a decision to convert, G-1 experts recommend.
At the G-1 Enlisted Professional Development Branch, Master Sgt. Michael Beaupre and Sgt. 1st Class William Lucas have been helping Erickson answer questions on the new GI Bill and have put together the new G-1 Web page. As Erickson retires, he said Lt. Col. Rob Yost will take over his position at G-1 Enlisted Professional Development.
To see the answers to other frequently asked questions about the Post-9/11 GI Bill, go to <a href="http://www.armyg1.army.mil/post911gibill.asp"target=_blank> www.armyg1.army.mil/post911gibill.asp</a>.