I’ve written before about the potential problems with enacting the new G.I. Bill legislation, sponsored by Sen. Jim Webb, but The Washington Post has a good explanation of all of the obstacles that veterans face in obtaining the bill’s benefits. The big one is that because the Veterans Administration needs time to implement the legislation, veterans will not be able to start claiming their benefits until next fall–if the VA can get ready for the incoming changes by then.
Right now, it’s doubtful that the VA will be ready to process the predicted flood of requests that will be submitted. The other problem is that the new benefits aren’t retroactive, so even if you’ve served in Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom (the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan), you won’t be able to redeem benefits until next fall, regardless of whether you’re already enrolled in a college or university. You will simply be out of luck for claiming the full benefits outlined in the new G.I. Bill–which calls for picking up the entire cost of attending a public university.
It’s a nice benefit, but many, like the George Washington University student quoted in the Post’s article, will only be able to get the extra benefits during their last semester. For him, it may end up being too late. In the end it seems that while this is pretty good legislation, the speed at which it can be implemented is hampering its effectiveness.
Cross posted at Pushback.