This website is not affiliated with the U.S. government or military.
Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My boyfriend is in the Army and he asked me to research to find out some things about the GI Bill. He said someone told him if you are married, your spouse can use to GI Bill. Is that true? Thanks!

A: Yes it can be true, depending on which G.I. Bill you are referring to. Let me explain.

The only G.I. Bill with a transfer option is the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill; the Montgomery G.I. Bill doesn’t have a transfer option. To make the transfer to a spouse, the service member:

  • has to have served at least 6 years on active duty after September 10, 2001;
  • has to agree to serve an additional 4 years on active duty;
  • must make the transfer to the spouse while still on active duty.

The service member can transfer any amount (or all) of the remaining months of education benefit to his/her spouse. The spouse has 15 years from the last date of discharge to use his/her transferred education benefit.

Keep in mind, the spouse will not receive the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill housing allowance or book stipend while the service member is still on active duty. If the spouse is still going to school after the service member is discharged, those two benefits will kick in at that time.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I wanted to know if the GI Bill would cover a trade school? I am looking to get my A+ and C++ certifications. I have already done some schooling but need to finish. Would it cover a computer trade school and, if so, any specific ones?

A: It really depends on which G.I. Bill you are referring to.  The Montgomery G.I. Bill will pay for the training and tests for cover the types of training you are referring to – certifications, non-degree producing. On the other hand, the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill leans more toward the degree-producing courses and pays for only one certification test and none of the training.

To answer your second question, yes, the Montgomery G.I. Bill will cover computer trade schools. As far as which trade schools the Montgomery G.I. Bill covers, it depends on if the school is a VA-approved school. If you have a few schools in mind, you can look them up and see if they are already VA-approved schools.

“The great uncertainty of all data in war is a peculiar difficulty, because all action must, to a certain extent, be planned in a mere twilight, which in addition not infrequently — like the effect of a fog or moonshine — gives to things exaggerated dimensions and unnatural appearance.” – Carl von Clausewitz (Prussian military analyst)

My life upon returning from a “war zone” has changed dramatically, while over there I knew what I had to do that day that week and what I needed to do to get myself home. Taking everything one day at a time, with the simple thought that this will all be over in X amount of months. This ideology is what kept me driving on it sounds so bad to
say, but in the middle of all the killing, all the hardship I, an expendable soldier, had a purpose, as a young man at 21 years old I felt I was completed. I didn’t require much sleep at all, I didn’t need much food, entertainment and luxuries were a thing of the past. was alone, I had the feeling that I didn’t need anyone, it was a illusion I want
it back.

I am still in this so called Fog of War mindset even though, I have stumbled into a completely new kind of fog. Now that I am “home” and “safe” again, I feel as if I walk around these days with a huge sense of miss-direction. Like I am lost, in a new city, I have no purpose, I feel as if my life and everything inside me has gone missing, I wonder to myself late at night laying on my bed alone in a cold dimly light room, were is the rest of me, were am I? Have you ever left your house without your wallet and threw out the day you have this void like you forgot something or have miss placed it , welcome to my world, I am a callus empty shell walking around looking for what I
have obviously left back in the war zone.
Look at the homeless veterans in this town of Killeen or any town as a matter of fact watch them, don’t they seem empty? Do they sometimes seem lost? As a Broken veteran I can relate to these men I can feel the emptiness, I can see them through our shared “fog” they stand out almost like they are glowing they had a purpose as I did and they have also left it in there warzone. Look at these returning soldiers fresh back from far off places on the other side of the world. Look at where they go bars and clubs and drink alcohol to try make their way through the endless fog we are all in. Spending all their money on cheep booze to make them forget what they are missing in their life, what
the military has taken from them, what they have left in far off and distance places they called home, where all of them had a purpose, where all of them had a goal, were they heads were clear and not wrapped in this fog that we are all lost in today.

Find the original post here: http://expendablesolder.blogspot.com/

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I retired in 2007 with 28+ yrs of service. Can I transfer my GI Bill to my daughter who is scheduled to attend college next year? If not, is there any initiative/legislation that will allow retiree to transfer their educational benefit to their dependents?

A: This is one of the most asked questions I get and unfortunately, right now, the answer is no you can’t transfer your Post 9/11 G.I. Bill benefits to your daughter after you have retired; the transfer has to be done while you are still serving. Thousands of veterans eligible for the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill retired before the transfer option became available on August 1, 2009 and they have missed out on this great benefit option.

Last year there was some federal legislation that, if passed, would have allowed retired veterans having the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill, to transfer education benefits to a spouse or dependent child after retiring. Unfortunately, it did not pass. If everyone would write their legislators and demand they either initiate or support such a bill this year, maybe we could have a strong enough voice to get it to pass.  When it comes to legislation, there is strength in numbers.  Also write to your service organizations and enlist their help as many of them have lobbyists on staff.

I left the Navy on August 14, 2007 after six years of active duty in the Post-9/11 world. As I would learn the hard way over the next twelve months, this was exceptionally bad timing to venture out into U.S. economy as a civilian.

Upon leaving active duty, I went to work for myself as a freelance web site developer and consultant. My position in the web development market was unique in that my operating overhead was very low, which allowed me to take on small projects with budgets that were considered unattractive by advertising agencies and commercial web development companies—or so I thought at the time.

For the first ten months or so, business seemed to be going quite well. As I would soon find out, though, there was a hidden evil at work that I was just too inexperienced and naïve to recognize. What I learned rather quickly was that these small-budget, one-off projects I had been doing all along don’t really exist in the web development market at large. The organizations that were hiring me to develop their web sites were ones that normally would have had the budget to retain a commercial agency, if not for the fact that the rapidly-declining economy had taken the proverbial axe to their revenues.

I thought that I had found a market niche that would allow me to avoid the recession’s effects, when in fact I was just riding a small wake of collateral spending that was about to subside very suddenly. The mainstream web development market had already fallen off a cliff, with web development companies laying people off left and right. Generating business on my own quickly became an uphill battle as well. In the year between July 2008 and July 2009, my small business generated less revenue than it had in just the first six months of 2008. That party, clearly, was over.

Going back to school started to look like a good option. I’d heard about the new Chapter 33 (Post-911) GI Bill, but for whatever reason I thought it wasn’t going to take effect for a few more years. On a day in late June of 2009, I went to the VA’s web site and read that it was going to take effect in August of that year. At that point going back to school started to look like a real good option. In fact, all of my excuses for not going back to school were rendered moot in about two seconds.

This new benefits package doesn’t just make it safe and supportable to go back to school—it incentivizes the pursuit of higher education to such a degree that any eligible veteran would be an absolute fool to not take advantage of it.

That very day I went to Truckee Meadows Community College and enrolled in their business transfer program. It’s a program in which the student first earns an AA in Business from TMCC, and then can transfer to the University of Nevada as a junior.

I was very excited to get back into the classroom environment and reignite this stagnant gray matter that hadn’t been used for much of anything in quite some time except for writing computer code—and worrying.
The Post-9/11 GI Bill got off to a slow start, with no payments being dispersed for about the first six weeks of the Fall 2009 semester. Like most vets who’d just registered for the program, I had no idea what was going on. Did I do something wrong on my paperwork? Did the school’s VA coordinator need more documents from me? Has the program been changed or delayed? We just didn’t know.

I was able to scrape together the money to buy my books for that semester, but as we got along into the second month of class and I was still receiving emails from the controller’s office saying that I owed about $1000 in tuition and fees, I began to think that perhaps this had all been a big mistake. “I should have been out looking for work instead of taking classes,” I thought.

I was just about ready to pack it in and go job hunting when word came out that the VA was going to be issuing emergency advance payments at all of the regional VA offices beginning on October 3. As it turned out, the response to the Post-9/11 GI Bill had been overwhelming, and the delays were simply a matter of the VA making their way through some 280,000 applications. Secretary Shinseki made the call that he didn’t want any more vets to drop out of school for financial reasons, and he directed the VA to begin issuing $3,000 checks to any vet who came to the VA regional office with their proof of enrollment. You could’ve cut my relief with a knife.

Within six weeks after that round of emergency payments went out, the new GI Bill was fully implemented and I was receiving those direct deposits in my bank account on the first of every month. Not one month has gone by since then in which I could have made ends meet without it.

For many Americans, the cost of higher education is the most daunting and stressful financial burden they will ever encounter. With the Post-9/11 GI Bill, that burden is eliminated. I can just confidently focus on my studies and enjoy the college experience. It gives me a tremendous sense of empowerment and motivation to have this benefit on my side. This program has opened up a world of opportunity to a guy who might otherwise have never gone to college. The fact that I’m only able to drum up about 20 hours of work each week is no longer a problem, because the GI Bill fills the financial gap as well. The Post-9/11 GI Bill, in every sense of the phrase, was my bailout.

I lack the words to relate how grateful I am to the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America organization for designing this new program and presenting it to congress, to congress for passing it, and to the American taxpayers for supporting veterans with such a tremendous benefit.

The only way that I can repay the American people for giving me this opportunity is to put this education to work, and that’s exactly what I’m going to do by growing my business, creating some jobs, and giving back to the community for many years to come.

Operation Purple Camps for Military Kids

“Can I still go if my favorite color is not purple?” This is one of the dozens of questions I answered for my nine-year-old son as we prepared for his FIRST camp experience, his first overnight stay with anyone who was not a blood relative, in fact. He was thrilled; I was worried … the story of my life as a mom of two active boys.

I had done my research on camps in Texas, where we currently live, and knew there were a lot of great options out there. Our Cub Scout pack as well as our church Children’s Program was taking groups of kids to camp this summer. Dozens of other camps were available, too, from science camps to cooking schools to outdoor field experiences. They all sounded fun, most were reasonably priced, and my son would have enjoyed them all. So how does a mom choose?

Well, I began like I always do when I have lots of options and need to make one choice … I made a list of Pros/Cons. It’s not quite the Military Decision-Making Process, but it’s a good start. Pros for Operation Purple camps included cost (can’t beat FREE!), activities (swimming, kayaking, archery, riflery, and zip-lines among others), and organization. It may be silly, but I would never send my child to a camp whose initial paperwork is unorganized; it gives me a bad feeling about how they might organize my child during the camp. I envision a late-night phone call: “Mrs. Cook, we’re sorry to inform you that we seem to have lost your son. We’re sure he’s around here somewhere, but we’re not exactly sure where …” But I digress.

So I have a list of pros and cons and Operation Purple is at the top along with a couple of other great choices. The only “cons” I could see to the camp were 1) he would have to leave Mom and spend the night somewhere else (this topped the “cons” list for all camps) and 2) it was a couple of hours away (other camps were in town or nearby). After reading all the materials, though, it became clear to me that Operation Purple was the place for my child this summer.

Unique to the camp? It is designed especially for military kids. The “purple” in “Operation Purple” means that it is all branches of service: Army, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard, and Marines, so my child would meet other kids from different military backgrounds.

Special events included a “Wall of Honor” where each child placed a photo of their service member, a panel of service members who would talk candidly and answer questions from the campers, and a special “rock” ceremony where each child contributed a rock from their area of Texas to the camp. Best of all, they had lots of discussions about what it’s like to be in the military and how to cope with things like deployments and fear.

Once my choice was made, the registration process was simple and, yes, organized. Since Operation Purple is sponsored by the National Military Family Association (NMFA), I registered online at the N MFA website. The subsequent emails I received were timely, informational, and reassuring. After I found out that our application had been accepted and that my son was selected (apparently there is a waiting list each year and applications are reviewed by a committee of some sort), I was sent some paperwork via email to complete. Medical forms, permission to photograph, and emergency contacts topped the list of things I had to return.

I received a few emails describing the camp and telling me what my child should bring. I was feeling good about our choice and all the correspondence was friendly and professional. Once the camp dates arrived, my husband and I drove to the camp location to complete the registration process and locate the right ‘bunk.’ Registration (aka “In-Processing”) was a breeze … we went through military-themed stations that were very organized and quick to maneuver. The TA-50 Field Gear station provided the campers with a backpack and water bottle and the Communication Station allowed us to sign up for a really cool site called “Bunk Notes” where we could send emails and care packages during the week.

We helped load his things into his air-conditioned dorm and met his counselors. After a quick tour of the main buildings, we ended up in the main meeting room where our son was greeted by a counselor and immediately immersed into some camp songs and games. A few quick hugs and a “See you, Mom!” and we were off again, driving home wondering how his week would go.

We got one phone call that week. Our son had borrowed a counselor’s phone and called just before bed to say, “I’m having a great time and [hey, GUYS! I'm on the PHONE! SHHH!] and I love you!” It was a quick call and an instant reminder of how grown-up my first-born child had become.

At the end of the week, I arrived at camp in time for the closing ceremonies, including a slide show and awards for things like “Messiest Dorm,” which I was pleased to learn my son’s group did NOT win. He was genuinely happy to see me and talked non-stop through lunch and the two-hour ride home. At the top of his list? The zip-line (“Mommy, I was scared at first but my counselor just told me to strap-in and jump!”) and the camo-relay (“We had to put on a whole combat uniform and do push-ups!”). He had a great time and we left our Operation Purple Camp experience very happy and hoping for another chance to attend next year!

Find the original post here:  http://fabulousarmylife.blogspot.com/

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I served from Sept. 1998 to Sept. 2002 and I believe that I am eligible for both GI Bills. I am thinking about attending the University of Phoenix either online or on campus. I was wondering which bill would benefit me more. Also, do either type of GI bill cover certifications such as personal training or project manager certificates? I would have to be a part-time student.

A: Did you make the $1,200 contribution to the Montgomery G.I. Bill? If so, then you probably do qualify for it providing your discharge was characterized as honorable.

As far as the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill,  you would qualify, but with 12 months after September 10, 2001, you would be at the 60% tier at best. If you had less than 12 months of service after September 10th, you would be at the 50% level.

As far as which bill would benefit you more, I’m guessing the Montgomery G.I. Bill and here is why:

  • The Montgomery pays for certification training and tests where the New G.I. Bill does not pay for the training and only one test;
  • If you are going to school at less than half-time (less than 6 credits per term), then you won’t get the Post 9/11 housing allowance;
  • If you are taking only online classes, you won’t get a housing allowance either.

With the Montgomery G.I. Bill, you can get up to $1,368 per month to go to school and you have to pay your own tuition and expenses. Under the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill, The VA would pay 50 or 60% of your  tuition and fees; you would have to pay the rest. According to most comparisons, online students generally earn more with the Montgomery G.I. Bill, but do your homework to be sure.  Know that once you switch to the New G.I. Bill, you can’t switch back.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Does any of these programs pay for books and materials? What about if you fail a test? Under the TA program I had to buy my books and pay for tests that I had failed.

A: To answer your first question, the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill pays up to $1,000 per year in a book stipend. The actual rate of pay is $41.67 per credit hour up to the maximum. If you do the math, the book stipend cover 24 credit hours of schooling per academic year.

As far as your second question, yes, if you receive a grade that does not count toward your graduation, you may indeed have to pay back the benefits you received for that course, unless there were mitigating circumstances – circumstances beyond your control. If you can prove mitigating, then you may not have to pay back the amount you received, but you also won’t get back the G.I. Bill entitlement you used for the course. You may also have to prove to the VA that the mitigating circumstances causing your failing grade have been corrected in order to get your benefits started again.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q:My children received DEA or Chapter 35 benefits for schooling because their father was deceased while in active duty. Since then my son has become a veteran in his own right. Is he entitled to the remaining DEA through father and Post 9/11 G.I. Bill benefits via his own active duty service? Thanks.

A: Yes he probably is entitled to both benefits. Generally speaking, if you qualify for more than one G.I. Bill program, you can only get a maximum of 48 months of combined education benefit. Under the Survivors’ and Dependents’ Education Assistance Program (DEA), he probably received up to 45 months. Under the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill, he could get up to 36 months.

By going on active duty, your son’s DEA eligibility period was extended by the length of his service plus four months and he has 15 years from his date of discharge to use his Post 9/11 G.I. Bill.

If your son is at the 100% tier level under the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill, the VA pays his school directly for his tuition and fees, up to the in-state maximum. Your son would get a housing allowance based on the E-5-with-dependents rate for the school’s zip code and up to $1,000 per year book stipend. If he is at a lesser tier level, then the VA only pays based on the percentage at his tier level. The maximum current rate of pay for DEA benefits is $925 per month and your son has to pay his own tuition.

Finally, one thing to watch is if your son switches to the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill now, he will only get the number of months he has left on his DEA benefit. If he has a considerable number of DEA months left, it might pay more to switch now and use those remaining months getting paid under the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill and not worry about trying to get those extra three months.  Keep in mind, once he switches to the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill, he won’t have any DEA benefits left to use.

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I received an honorable discharge in 2000, came back into the Army in 2008, but was injured during training and now as of mar 2010 I received a chapter 5-17 (medical) with a general discharge.  Can I still receive the post 9/11 GI Bill since my first term of service was an honorable discharge?

A: Because your first term of service and honorable discharge happened before September 10, 2001, that period of service does not meet the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill requirement of 90 days of service after September 10, 2001. Did you sign-up for and pay into the Montgomery G.I. Bill during your first term of service? If you made the $1,200 contribution through pay reduction, you would be eligible for that G.I. Bill.

As far as your medical discharge and the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill go, the VA website says “You may also be eligible if you were honorably discharged from active duty for a service-connected disability and you served 30 continuous days after September 10, 2001.” Because you have a medical discharge under general conditions, you would not qualify for the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill. It might be worth your while to petition your branch of service and see if you can get your discharge changed to honorable, if you don’t have the Montgomery G.I. Bill.