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Troops Should Apply Soon for Education Benefits, VA Official Says

By Navy Lt. Jennifer Cragg
Special to American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 15, 2009 – Service members interested in using the new Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits this fall are encouraged to contact the Veterans Affairs Department soon to determine their eligibility, the VA’s director of education said.

“The reason we opened the door early on May 1 [was] so that we can manage this workload effectively; we expected a significant demand,” Keith Wilson told bloggers and online journalists during a “DoDLive” bloggers roundtable, yesterday.

“We wanted people to come in as quickly as possible because the sooner we can get that eligibility determination out of the way, the better place we are [in] to process the enrollment [certifications] when the schools start to come in with that information,” he said.

On average, processing times to verify eligibility can take from a few weeks up to a few months, Wilson said. However, colleges and universities have been ready to receive the enrollment applications for some time.
“We’ve got students at 6,800 colleges,” Wilson said. “They have been engaged with information flow from VA from the beginning.”

The VA already is processing fall enrollment forms, he noted. “The important issue, though, is getting that request into us as soon as possible. We are already at the point now where the fall enrollment is starting to hit us; our high demand period for the year is upon us,” he said.

The new Post-9/11 GI Bill is just one of four major education programs the VA offers, Wilson said. People should educate themselves on the different options to find the best fit.

“This is a complex program, but it is complex because of the flexibility it has,” Wilson said. “The costs of education vary widely across the country, the types of training that is offered vary widely, and individuals have to be participatory in this process.

“They have to be actively engaged to understand what their benefits do for them or what they don’t do for them so that they can maximize the benefits of all of our programs.”

In fact, “many individuals are eligible for multiple programs,” he said. Service members’ spouses and children may be eligible for benefits, as well.

“Transferability of education benefits has been one of the most requested and largest requests from the field and fleet, particularly from family support and advocacy groups,” said Bob Clark, assistant director of Accession Policy for the Office of the Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Military Personnel Policy, who also attended the roundtable.

To be eligible to transfer benefits to family members, service members must first qualify for the Post 9/11 GI Bill, Clark said.

Service members must have qualifying active duty since Sept. 11, 2001, and must be serving in the armed forces either on active duty or in the selective reserves on Aug. 1,, 2009, Clark said. “That means that it doesn’t apply to members of the individual ready reserve, those who retired or separated.

“The provision was included in law to recruit and retain the current force, and requires a member [to be] of that force on or after that date the program becomes effective,” he continued. “To be eligible, you must have served six years and commit to four additional years.”

Clark said servicemembers can verify their family members’ eligibility by checking the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System.

“[They] must be listed in DEERS and must be eligible for benefits,” Clark said. “They must be either a spouse or a child who [is] eligible for benefits, which means children under the age of 21 or 23 as a full-time student.”

When servicemembers’ children use the benefit, they use it the same way as a veteran, Wilson said.

“They would go to our GI Bill Web site [and] apply online,” he explained. “After service approval and application to VA, we would issue them a certificate of eligibility.”

Students then take the certificate to their school, and their school’s VA certifying official will report to the VA the same information they would have reported if the veteran would have been using the benefit, Wilson said.

Children can start using the benefit at 18 years old or after obtaining a high school diploma or equivalent, or until the day they turn 26, Clark said.

On the other hand, “A spouse is treated exactly like the sponsor; they can use the benefit while the sponsor is on active duty and for up to 15 years after the sponsor’s last separation,” he said.

Service members can select the months they have available -- up to 36 months total -- to share with each family member, and select the period of time in whole months, Clark said. Their application will be sent to their service to approve before being sent to the VA database.

For information on the transferability process, service members should contact their service, and for use of the transfer benefit, they should visit the VA Web site, Wilson said.

“This is a program that the VA will be administering on behalf of [the Defense Department],” Wilson said. “[The department] will be determining eligibility, so if the issue involves that of determining the eligibility, the individual will be working with [the department].

“When it comes to the point where the individual is interested in actually using the benefit, they will come to VA,” he said.

Wilson and Clark both added that the new Post-9/11 GI Bill is flexible. This flexibility applies to those service members who came into the military under the Montgomery GI Bill era, but think they don’t qualify for benefits under the new 9/11 Post GI Bill.

“A person can use all of their Montgomery GI Bill benefits, then come in and apply for Chapter 33 and receive 12 more months of benefits under Chapter 33,” Wilson said. “Because they are no longer entitled to the Montgomery GI Bill, they are not giving up that entitlement; they have used up that entitlement”.

For questions on eligibility for the Post-9/11 GI Bill visit or contact the call center at 1-888-GIBill-1.

(Navy Lt. Jennifer Cragg serves in the Defense Media Activity’s emerging media directorate.)


Related Sites:
Special Report: GI Bill Transferability Has Arrived
Post-9/11 GI Bill
"DoDLive" Bloggers Roundtable


    Located here are Links of interest for our Membership, and interesting information pertaining to the Units or Ships where they served their Campaign duty.

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Press Release           False Rumor Regarding Destruction of Veterans Records

Rumor Hinders National Personnel Records Center’s Ability to Answer Veterans’ Reference Requests

Washington, DC. . . There is a false rumor circulating on the Internet, in e-mails, and among veteran service organizations that Official Military Personnel Files (OMPFs) at the National Personnel Records Center, operated by the National Archives and Records Administration, will be digitized and then destroyed. This rumor is NOT TRUE. Neither the Department of Defense (DoD) nor the National Personnel Records Center intend to destroy any OMPFs stored at the Center. The purpose of any electronic scanning would be to help preserve the originals and increase efficiency in handling reference requests. The National Archives and Records Administration preserves and protects OMPFs that were transferred from the military service departments because they are permanently valuable records that document the essential evidence of military service for the veterans of our nation. NPRC stores and services OMPFs for retired, discharged, or deceased military personnel. The National Personnel Records Center responds to approximately 4,000 requests pertaining to military records each day, totaling more than one million requests each year. Many of those requests are for Separation Documents (usually DD Form 214) and the Center answers the majority of those inquiries in ten days or less. Requests resulting from this false rumor will have a negative impact on NPRC’s ability to respond to requests from veterans with real immediate needs, such as medical treatment, employment, retirement, etc. For press information, contact the National Archives Public Affairs staff at 202-501-5526 or 301-837-1700.






















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Important Alert for Veterans
Personal Data of Millions Stolen

WASHINGTON, May 22, 2006--The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is alerting all members that computer records with personal information on millions of veterans were stolen earlier this month from the home of a data analyst who works for the Department of Veterans Affairs.
In conference calls today with veterans’ service organizations and with members of the national news media, VA Secretary Jim Nicholson admitted that up to 26.5 million names, social security numbers, dates of birth and, in some cases, home addresses, disability ratings and spousal information were stolen during what appeared to be a random burglary.
The VA employee, whom the secretary said was not authorized to take the information home, has been placed on administrative leave as FBI and local law enforcement officials continue the investigation.
VFW Commander-in-Chief Jim Mueller called the admission deeply disturbing, but said he would help the VA inform the 2.4 million members of the VFW and its Auxiliaries. Then he demanded accountability.
“What happened is absolutely unacceptable, but the task at hand is to inform every veteran family so that they can begin taking steps to safeguard their personal information,” said Mueller, who then wants those employees and/or officials who may be at fault to be held accountable for their actions.
“Above all else, we demand accountability from those who work for the people,” he said. “Whether the investigation reveals it was one person involved or includes others in more senior positions who may have given tacit approval, we expect their employment to be terminated immediately. The severity of this incident does not permit second chances.”
Nicholson said the 26.5 million names represent every military veteran discharged since 1975, and possibly earlier if the individual filed a VA claim. He said that there is no indication that anyone’s medical or financial records were compromised, but did acknowledge that the reason he decided to go public with the news was to alert all veterans of the incident and for them to be more vigilant of their personal information.
The VA will send out individual notification letters to veterans to every extent possible. Veterans can also go to for more information. Also, the VA has established a manned call center for veterans to receive information about this situation and to learn more about consumer identity protections. That toll free number is 1-800-FED INFO (333-4636). A special call center has been established and is open from 8 a.m. to 9 pm (EDT), Monday-Saturday, as long as it is needed.
If overseas use the phone number below:
From Canada: 802-296-5177
From the Caribbean/Central and South America: 713-383-2652.
From Europe, the Pacific and elsewhere: 412-395-6272.
Have a question?
Click to read FAQ's
Click to read VA's official statement
Click to read VA's letter to veterans
Click to read letter VFW sent to Senate VA Committee Chairman Larry Craig (R-ID). Similar letters also were sent to ranking Senate member Daniel Akaka (D-HI), House VA Committee Chairman Steve Buyer (R-IN) and ranking member Lane Evans (D-IL).
 Our Members Military Service Pages

Our Armed Services  (Branch of Service)  pages are meant to share the relevant Campaign or Era histories of the Units in which we served.  Every Unit, Ship, or Plane listed was deployed in a Foreign War or Campaign in support of America's Freedom. Varying degrees of information has been posted. Our experiences span from WWII to Afghanistan and Iraq, and  all the  Services are represented. Our intention is not to rewrite history, only share ours. These pages will be updated as information becomes available.

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Contact for Georgia Dept of Veteran Affairs

Counties Served: 

Manager: Harry Evans Gwinnett, Hall and Lumpkin
Phone: 770-531-6060          Fax: 770-531-6061  or (Thursdays Only in Lawrencevile)
311 Green Street NW  Room 405 Gwinnett Justice & Administration Center
75 Langley Drive, Lawrenceville, GA  30045
  Gainesville, GA  30501
 The National Personnel Records Center has provided the following website for veterans to access their DD-214 online This may be particularly helpful when a veteran needs a copy of his DD-214 for employment purposes. POC is Lyn Krout, , DSN 458-1755, commercial 410-306-1755.

NPRC initiates online records request procedures and is working to make it easier for veterans with computers and internet access to obtain copies of documents from their military files. Military veterans and the next of kin of deceased former military members may now use a new online military personnel system to request documents. Other individuals with a need for documents must still complete the standard Form 180 which can be downloaded from the online web site. The new web-based application was designed to provide better service on these requests by eliminating the records center's mailroom processing time. Also, because the requester will be asked to supply all information essential for NPRC to process the request, delays that normally occur when NPRC has to ask veterans for additional information will be minimized. Veterans and next of kin may access this application at - please note there is no requirement to type "www" in front of the web address.













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November 13, 2009

VA.Gov Launches First Step of Web Site Redesign

WASHINGTON – On Veterans Day, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) rolled out the first phase of a large-scale Web renovation to better serve America’s Veterans.  This first and most visible step of the renovation consists of changing the Web site’s look, making it easier for Veterans and their families to navigate and to find the information they are looking for. 

“VA is looking at all possible ways to increase our outreach efforts so that we can reach all our Veterans and their family members,” said VA Assistant Secretary of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs L. Tammy Duckworth. “That includes leveraging new technologies and creating user friendly Web sites.  VA’s care and services are only as good as Veterans’ awareness of them.  This new renovation will help organize our Web site and ultimately better serve our Veterans.”

VA’s long-term goals in redesigning the site are to make it easier and more inviting for Veterans through incorporating Web best practices, focusing on topics and tasks rather than office function, improving the navigational structure to ensure consistency, and making it more visually appealing.  The new website design will cover more than 500 VA Web sites and about 80,000 pages. 

Some of the major changes include improvements in the navigational structure that provide consistency among all sites and consolidate major topics; a slide show section that showcases current VA events or hot topics; and bottom columns that feature news items, highlights and a “Quick List” with links directly to important applications such as Veterans On Line Applications (VONAPP) and MyHealtheVet.

To view the new version of the Web site, visit





Congress Bars Military Funeral Protesters              By JIM ABRAMS WASHINGTON (AP) - Demonstrators would be barred from disrupting military funerals at national cemeteries under legislation approved by Congress and sent to the White House Wednesday. The measure, passed by voice vote in the House hours after the Senate passed an amended version, specifically targets a Kansas church group that has staged protests at military funerals around the country, claiming that the deaths were a sign of God's anger at U.S. tolerance of homosexuals. The act ``will protect the sanctity of all 122 of our national cemeteries as shrines to their gallant dead,'' Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-TN., said prior to the Senate vote. ``It's a sad but necessary measure to protect what should be recognized by all reasonable people as a solemn, private and deeply sacred occasion,'' he said. Under the Senate bill, approved without objection by the House with no recorded vote, the ``Respect for America's Fallen Heroes Act'' would bar protests within 300 feet of the entrance of a cemetery and within 150 feet of a road into the cemetery from 60 minutes before to 60 minutes after a funeral. Those violating the act would face up to a $100,000 fine and up to a year in prison. The sponsor of the House bill, Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mi., said he took up the issue after attending a military funeral in his home state, where mourners were greeted by ``chants and taunting and some of the most vile things I have ever heard.'' ``Families deserve the time to bury their American heroes with dignity and in peace,'' Rogers said Wednesday before the House vote. The demonstrators are led by the Rev. Fred Phelps of Topeka, Kan., who has previously organized protests against those who died of AIDS and gay murder victim Matthew Shepard.  In an interview when the House bill passed, Phelps said Congress was ``blatantly violating the First Amendment'' rights to free speech in passing the bill. He said that if the bill becomes law he will continue to demonstrate but would abide by the restrictions. Sen. Pat Roberts, a Republican from Kansas, said the loved ones of those who die have already sacrificed for the nation and ``we must allow them the right to mourn without being thrust into a political circus.''  In response to the demonstrations, the Patriot Guard Riders, a motorcycle group including many veterans, has begun appearing at military funerals to pay respects to the fallen service member and protect the family from disruptions. More than a dozen states are considering similar laws to restrict protests at nonfederal cemeteries. The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit against a new Kentucky law, saying it goes too far in limiting freedom of speech and expression.   The bill is H.R. 5037