New GI Bill Covers College for Vets

By: Tiffany Teasley Email
By: Tiffany Teasley Email

A purple heart soldier, retired Army veteran Sean Knudsen was awarded one of the highest honors after returning from a year-long tour in Iraq, but when it came to working in the civilian world, he was fighting a different battle.

"It was overwhelming, it was frustrating, it was one of the hardest things that I've ever had to do in my life, and to find work, it was tough," Knudsen said.

But now soldiers like Knudsen are being given the tools to fight in the war zone better known as the nation's economy, all thanks to the new GI bill for post 9/11 vets, shelling out money for school.

"This program is going to pay them the monthly stipend, so probably equal to the $1200, in addition we're going to pay the tuition and fees at the school," said Marie George, Educational Liaison for the U.S. Veterans Affairs.

"Michigan gets one of the highest reimbursement rates about $18,000 a term, that means you can go to Michigan State University or Lansing Community College or another school here in this great state and get it covered," said Rep. Mike Rogers (R) Michigan.

The bill also gives an allowance for housing and books at any higher learning institution, public or private. Congressman Rogers stressed the importance of the bill to veterans Tuesday, with the economy in crisis.

"You have all of these veterans coming back, they've served their country honorably, they're coming back to a tough economy, what better way to get them to change their skill set," Rogers said.

"They need the education to be more competitive in today's world, and we need to transition them from being a combat soldier to being a civilian, and this is the best means to do it," George said.

Unlike previous GI bills the new program also allows vets to transfer their unused benefits to dependents in their immediate family.

"A veteran can choose to go on themselves, or in some cases they may want their spouse or one of their children to take advantage of this program, that's a huge difference," Rogers said.

A huge difference for army vet's like Knudsen, a father of three who can now see security for his kids' education.

"For veterans like myself, living here in Michigan with the economy the way it is, dollars are short and pennies are tight, and you don't have to put away as much now for their education, and this is an opportunity for them to go off on those funds, spend the money here in the state at the local universities," Knudsen said.

For more information on the new GI Bill visit: www.gibill.va.gov


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