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2019 Will See Big Changes For Veterans' Benefits

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    With a new year, and new elections, comes new laws and legislation. I wondered how the New Year would play out for veterans receiving benefits from the government, so I found an article from that spells out what changes we will see for Veterans' benefits. Having veterans in my family, I'm always keeping my eyes peeled for any changes that come through the pipeline. I think it's important to know what changes are being made on the 'Hill' that will affect our veterans. You may not be former military personnel yourself, but it touches our friends and family members, in one way or another. The article breaks down new changes to Veterans' benefits on a state level, as well as Federal, but I wanted to focus more on the Federal, since it will affect veterans on a broader spectrum.

    Here's the breakdown:

    GI Bill

    A provision of the Forever GI Bill that provides more benefits for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) Programs will become effective Aug. 1, 2019.

    The VA will provide up to nine additional months of Post-9/11 GI Bill coverage to certain eligible individuals who are enrolled in a STEM program and use up all their GI Bill benefits.

    This applies only to veterans who already have completed at least 60 semester or 90 quarter hours and are in a STEM program that requires more than the standard 128 semester or 192 quarter hours for a degree.

    The VA can pay up to nine additional months of GI Bill benefits or $30,000, whichever is less. Those using the Yellow Ribbon program and dependents using transferred benefits are not eligible.

    Space-A Travel

    Disabled veterans with a 100-percent disability rating are now eligible for Space-A travel.

    New UCMJ Article

    Article 128b will be added to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, addressing domestic violence. It includes assault, intimidation, violation of a protective order, and damaging property or injuring animals in a domestic-assault situation.

    More UCMJ changes can be found here.

    High-Deployment Allowance for Reservists

    A new law adds reservists mobilized under Section 1104(b) to those eligible for the high-deployment allowance of up to $1,000 per month.

    New Tricare Retiree Dental Program

    The big news in Tricare coverage is the replacement of the Tricare Retiree Dental Plan (TRDP) with the FEDVIP program. Also, family members of active-duty personnel are now eligible for vision insurance through FEDVIP.

    One change I'm happy to see is the VA adding 9 additional months to Post-9/11 GI Bill coverage. I think it will certainly gives veterans more wiggle room when they use up all their GI Bill benefits.

    What changes do you find more impactful? There's always more we can do for our veterans, but are there changes that need to be implemented further?

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    9 more months added to the GI Bill definitely seems like the big one here. Thanks for the update. VA benefits always need to be better. I'm sure the list of what should be done is very long. Though I don't have personal experience with it, so I am also interested in someone else's opinion here that does.
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    The 9 month extension is certainly nice, but it frustrates me that it's only for a very (very) specific degree path. I'm of the belief that our veterans have earned the right to pursue the post-military career of their choice and that 36 months, as is currently the maximum amount of education the Post 9/11 GI Bill allows (not including the STEM extension), is simply not enough.

    It took me 4.5 years to graduate college and that was the *only* thing I was doing (other than a menial job as a lifeguard at a community pool). Veterans entering college after their tour or tours of duty often don't have that luxury. Our leaders should focus on the number of credit hours it will require to obtain a degree or trade certification, not the number of months a veteran is enrolled in a program.

    It's the least we could do for people who served our country.