When President Barack Obama signed the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, it included provisions that affect many aspects of the military. An overhaul of military pensions was a controversial part. But also included were changes to the GI Bill and military education provisions, as Military.com reported. Understanding them is important to any current or former member of the armed services. Here are some of the major changes:
- Reserve Educational Assistance Program ends. The REAP program provided educational assistance and benefits to members of the armed services reserves who were called to active duty either during a national emergency or war as declared by the President or Congress. That program is now closed to new enrollees. Last year an estimated 13,700 used the services. However, most people eligible for REAP are also eligible under the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Those who are in the REAP program currently have until November 25, 2019 to use their benefits.
- No unemployment while using GI Bill benefits. Some members of Congress were particularly upset when they learned that some veterans had been using GI Bill benefits – including free tuition, a housing allowance, and a $1,000 annual book stipend – and then applying for unemployment at the same time. Apparently it was a very popular loophole, but no more. According to language in the NDAA, a person cannot receive Post-9/11 GI Bill education benefits and unemployment benefits at the same time.
- Expansion of educational counseling as part of TAP. The Transition Assistance Program (TAP) had been faulted by not providing enough assistance to veterans to help them in the transition back to civilian life. The General Accounting Office found that attempts to revamp TAP had been “hampered by limitations in how the agencies evaluate the program’s performance as well as challenges with effectively serving members of the Reserves and National Guard.” TAP will now have to include preparation for higher education or training, for career or technical training, for entrepreneurship, and for other options as they prove necessary.
- Reservists and Guard members get more attention. There will be reintegration and quality of life training before, during, and after mobilizations. Reservists and members of the National Guard will receive four paid training sessions. Two of the sessions happen post-deployment. One emphasis will be ensuring that people understand the benefits to which they are entitled.
All veterans, reservists, and members of the National Guard should look into the details to see exactly how the changes affect them and their education plans.
American Sentinel University is proud to have been named as a “Military Friendly School” for the ninth consecutive year. This distinction puts American Sentinel in the top 20 percent of colleges, universities and trade schools nationwide that do the most to embrace America’s military service members and veterans as students, and to dedicate resources to ensure their success both in the classroom and after graduation. Learn more about our military friendly education programs and distance learning courses.