Should Apply Soon for Education Benefits, VA Official Says
By Navy Lt. Jennifer Cragg
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
Special to American Forces Press Service
“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
“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
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
“[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
“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
http://www.gibill.va.gov/ or contact the call center at
(Navy Lt. Jennifer Cragg serves in the Defense Media Activity’s
emerging media directorate.)
Special Report: GI Bill Transferability Has Arrived
Post-9/11 GI Bill
"DoDLive" Bloggers Roundtable
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U S A F
Press Release False Rumor Regarding Destruction of
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.
Page Now Open
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
firstgov.com 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?
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
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pages will be updated as information becomes available.
U S M C
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for Georgia Dept of Veteran Affairs
Gwinnett, Hall and Lumpkin
(Thursdays Only in Lawrencevile)
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National Personnel Records Center
has provided the following website for veterans to access their DD-214 online http://vetrecs.archives.gov/. This
may be particularly helpful when a veteran needs a copy of his DD-214 for
employment purposes. POC is Lyn Krout, Linda.firstname.lastname@example.org , 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
http://vetrecs.archives.gov/ - please note there is no requirement to type
"www" in front of the web address.
Recent Media Coverage of
Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5255
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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
“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
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