An eleventh-hour change to Department of Veterans Affairs legislation scrapped a plan by lawmakers to increase the service obligation required for troops who wish to transfer their Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to their spouses or children.
The bill, which was passed by the House yesterday, originally included a provision requiring troops to serve 10 years on active duty plus a two-year service obligation to qualify for the transfer benefit. Instead, lawmakers opted to keep the requirement at the current six years of service, plus a four-year service obligation.
A plan to slash in half the housing allowance for military dependents using the transferred benefit remained in the bill and was approved as part of the vote. A similar version of the legislation will be considered by the Senate before heading to the president's desk for approval before it becomes law.
The provisions, part of the Veterans Employment, Education and Healthcare Act, halved only the payment for children of service members using the transferred funding -- not spouses. The congressionally mandated Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission last year recommended eliminating the entire housing payout for both groups.
Children who have already been transferred the benefit under the old rules will be grandfathered into the full housing allowance, as will those transferred the benefit up to 180 days after the change is signed into law. Troops who have not yet reached six years of active service are not eligible to transfer the benefit and will not be able to lock in the current housing allowance rules.
Also included in the bill were two Fry Scholarship expansions for spouses of troops killed in action after September 11, 2001, and a measure allowing Guard and Reserve members on medical hold from injuries received on active duty to earn their GI Bill faster than has traditionally been permitted.
-- Amy Bushatz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.