September 22, 2010 - The trend is just beginning. Last year saw over 38,000 children of military veterans attending college on educational benefits transferred to them from their retiring or career military parents. More than 145,000 soldiers have requested their GI bill benefits be transferred to about 331,000 children and spouses so far this year. Two years ago it was estimated the ability to transfer benefits like this would add $10 billion to the cost of the GI bill program over the first 10 years.
The Department of Defense (DoD) recently made almost all career military people eligible to transfer their benefits. At the same time, the DoD lowered the requirements for those close to retirement to transfer their benefits. The result was a rush to use the transferability option. If a soldier has served a minimum of 6 years and signs up for 4 more, his or her benefits can be transferred to a spouse. Soldiers can transfer to their children after a minimum of 10 years service and a new commitment for 4 more.
Senator Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), Chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, believes the option to transfer is too broad. He went on to say it should be used to retain people with selective skills, not to reward a person for serving a career in the military.
To receive the benefit, soldiers must have been on active duty on or after 1Aug09. For those eligible for retirement between August 2009 and July 2012, the 4 year additional service requirement was dropped. The DoD sees it as a well-serving retention tool and has no plans to reduce those eligible for benefits transfers. After all, the money for the program comes from the Department of Veterans Affairs, not out of the DoD budget.
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