On April 15 the Army announced that changes would be implemented regarding the Transfer of Education Benefit (TEB) of the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Effective August 1, 2013 “every Soldier who elects to transfer their Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to a family member will incur an additional four years in the Army, without regard to their time in service.” (www.army.mil) Presently, if Soldiers were close to retirement, within the 0-3 years range, they would not have sustained additional time.
Soldiers Who Are Forced Out
Due to force reduction initiatives, the Army will downsize over the next few years. If a Soldier is ineligible for the required additional four years will they be eligible to transfer their benefit? According to LTC Tom Alexander, Army G-1, the answer is no. “A Soldier who is selected for early separation under a force-shaping initiative loses their eligibility to transfer education benefits to their dependents. If, however, they received approval on their request to transfer education benefits before they are selected for separation, they will retain the benefit and the VA will not recoup any funds paid to dependents. The Army has been encouraging those Soldiers who are candidates for early separation to request to transfer their benefits, if they so desire, before separation board results are approved and their eligibility is lost.”
Making the Decision
The ability to utilize the service member’s benefit to assist with spouse educational costs is immense, specifically because of the limited options that exist for military spouses. One example is Army wife, Janet McIntosh, who said she and her soldier sat down to explore financial aid options that would allow her to attain a degree while not digging any deeper into their already depleted savings. “The ability to transfer his post 9-11 benefits allowed me the opportunity to finish my degree and achieve my dreams of having a career of my own that could move with me. Without the ability to do that I would have had to put my dreams and my degree on hold – with less than 2 years to go.” Similarly, Psychology major Debbie Hendrix plans to apply the financial assistance to pursue her Master’s degree. The Fort Bliss based spouse says, “With the GI Bill I will be able to get my masters without racking up the debt we have with my bachelors.”
Overall, the policy which was drafted in 2009 and is just taking affect this year, will impact those senior ranked Soldiers who are retirement eligible. The Army is adamant on making sure that the force and their families are aware of these pending changes so that they can make an informed decision now about a valued benefit. It is a decision that impacts the entire family and one that only your family should have a say in. For more information on eligibility for the Post 9/11 GI Bill and transferring it to any dependent, visit the Veterans Administration site at: http://gibill.va.gov/