Who #ForeverGIBill Impacts
Student Veterans of America | June 27, 2017
Student Veterans of America is seeking a Forever GI Bill for all future generations of veterans. Service members don't decide when they get sent to war, so war shouldn't decide if veterans can go to school, which is why we believe that it's critical to end the expiration date on a benefit veterans earned, and not tie it to a conflict status. We need to improve and expand the benefit for veterans and survivors who earned the GI Bill but are being left out. SVA, with the support of partners like Got Your 6, the American Legion, TAPS, VFW, and many more seek to:
• Extend the Yellow Ribbon Program to recipients of the Fry Scholarship.
• Award Purple Heart recipients GI Bill eligibility regardless of active duty time served.
• Ensure National Guard and Reserve Members get the same benefits as those they served on active duty with.
• Restore benefits lost at schools that closed.
• Provide additional time to use the GI Bill to empowering students pursuing STEM degrees.
• End the arbitrary 15-year time limit to use the GI Bill, making it a lifetime benefit to be used at any age.
These small changes can make a huge impact. The below individuals share in their own words details of their service, and how they have been impacted by their limited access to the GI Bill in its current form.
It was an honor to deploy to Fallujah in 2006 and take part in the mission, which I still believe in after all these years. Coming home and continuing my education was; however, not what I expected. My active duty days were counted as points towards education, regardless of the days I was shot at, and had bombs explode underneath me. And given my Purple Heart, the obsession with days accrued versus deeds done, and blood spilled, is truthfully criminal.
Jonathan Richard Goldman
Marine Reservist, Purple Heart Recipient
When I was in high school, my mom told me as a surviving child I could go to any school I wanted because the GI Bill was going to pay my tuition and expenses. I chose American University, a very expensive private school and unfortunately my mother was wrong, the VA was going to pay $18,000 maximum, leaving $22,000 for my family to come up with. I was entitled to the Fry Scholarship because my father had died in the line of duty. Had he been living and transferred his GI Bill to me, I would have been eligible for the Yellow Ribbon Program to offset the difference. Instead my mother took out mass amounts of loans to offset the difference. When she died during my sophomore year, I had no way to take out additional loans. If it were not for additional scholarships I had applied for, I would not have been able to finish my degree, a degree my father wanted for me. Eligibility for Fry recipients to receive the Yellow Ribbon Scholarship is an inequity that must be corrected, haven't our families already paid the price?
Surviving daughter of Army SFC Jeffrey and Air Force SRA Nichole Haycock
Putting off my college career for two years while I deployed left me with giving up the funding I had acquired from high school scholarships and a DreamSaving program. I deployed with Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force 2016, last March. My pre-deployment training was conducted at Camp Lejeune Mar-june, where I rode with the USS Oak Hill for a week to Honduras, spent a month on SOTO Cano Air base, and then traveled by CH-53 to Gracias A Dios, a third world region of Honduras. I personally feel lucky to have been able to experience so much and meet so many amazing people living in these difficult conditions, but I did all of this with the understanding that I would acquire the Post 9/11 GI Bill, partial benefits, which would balance the programs I gave up when I chose to serve my nation when it needed me. This was unfortunately not the case, and I am now back home and starting over on saving for my college fund. Prior to my deployment, I was able to earn my Associates degree, but I still have one year remaining on my six year contract with the Active Reserves. For now I am working at a local research company, to gain experience for the career I hope to pursue once I can afford to attend college full-time, hopefully in a year or possibly two.
Marine Corps Reservist
My husband, Lt Col David Greene, worked hard to make the dream of college a future reality for our kids. However, Dave would never live to see them graduate. He died in Iraq when Jena and Wesley were only 10 and 8 yrs old. His death was obviously a traumatic blow to my family and after the initial shock wore off, college became one of my first concerns. When I first discovered the Yellow Ribbon Program I became hopeful that funding college would be possible. Unfortunately, after many phone calls and research online, I learned this program was not available to my kids. Yellow Ribbon was only available to those kids whose veteran fathers and mothers RETURNED from Iraq or ARE active duty. I could not understand how my kids, who sacrificed their father in the name of freedom, were not eligible. Since then, we have worked hard to piece together scholarships and assistance, for which we are grateful, and we are accomplishing this goal of college education. However, this has not been easy at all and my son recently transferred to another college, partly because it is less expensive. Through this experience, I realized there are many surviving kids out there who do not know about scholarships, how to apply for them, or have the tenacity to utilize them. Most scholarships involve a lot of paperwork, maintenance, tracking, and heartbreaking requirements for essays about what the money means to them .... or what their dad's service means to them. Needless to say, college for surviving children is not the usual challenge one expects. If the Yellow Ribbon Program can become available to these surviving kids, who have already faced such sacrifice, it would be an immense relief. And a tribute from our country which would allow the patriotic sacrifice to carry on a legacy.
Proud widow of Lt Col David S Greene and proud mother of Jena and Wesley Greene
During my senior year of high school, I remember receiving an acceptance letter to my number one college choice. I was beyond excited and couldn't wait to tell my parents. Then my mother let me know we couldn't afford it. It crushed me. I had worked so hard in school, always on the honor roll, AP classes, and one of the top students in my class, only to be told, we can't afford college for you. The reason I chose to serve my country and join the United States Navy was for the opportunity to earn a college degree without the debt. Joining the Navy was my only opportunity to earn a debt-free education. It's discouraging that because I chose to pursue a degree in a high-demand STEM field that I still had to incur the financial burden of student loans. It took me longer than 5 years as a full-time undergrad to graduate. 5+ years is the norm at the University of Houston for Petroleum Engineers. I didn't know anyone who graduated in 4 years. Veterans have proven to be a critical talent pool for STEM industries, which is inarguably the future for the American economy. It's critical that we pass the STEM Extension Act so that the promise of an education can be fulfilled for future student veterans pursuing science, technology, engineering, and math.
Fontaine Wilson, Navy Veteran
Studied Petroleum Engineering at University of Houston
As a child of a fallen soldier that attends a school that accepts the Yellow Ribbon Program, I was ecstatic. I was so excited that there was a program to cover the hefty expenses that were not covered with the GI Bill. Unfortunately, I was denied the Yellow Ribbon Scholarship because my father was killed in action and he's not currently serving. I, as a student of TCU, attend college alongside children of active duty children that have no worries as to how they're going to pay for their college education. If the Yellow Ribbon Program was extended to support children of fallen soldiers, I wouldn't have to worry about my education or whether or not I'll have enough funds for the next semester. Children of fallen soldiers deserve to not be overlooked, as our fathers and mothers are just as significant as those who are currently fighting. Having the opportunity to be sponsored by this program would alleviate stress and allow me to know that my family is just as important as the families with parents still fighting in the war. Attending Texas Christian University is nothing short of expensive and I can't imagine not being able to afford attending the university as to not being eligible for the Yellow Ribbon.
Surviving daughter of USA Capt. Joshua McClimans, KIA April 22, 2011
I recently graduated from Florida State University with a degree in Chemistry. I served in the United States Marine Corps from 2005 to 2009. During my time in service, I was forward deployed to Fallujah, Iraq and Helmand Province, Afghanistan. I took full-advantage of the opportunity to serve my country, as a way to earn my degree. The added cost and time of pursuing a STEM degree has impacted me and many of my peers, because of the current one size fits all nature of the GI Bill. The problem we face is that STEM majors take 2-3 semesters longer to graduate, with higher course-loads, and more difficult classes to complete. I proudly served my country in Iraq and Afghanistan, just the same as my brothers and sisters, and I deserve the same opportunity to earn my education.
Ryan Taylor, Marine Corps Veteran
Studied Chemistry at Florida State University
We want to be remembered as the generation who gave back and secured the GI Bill into the next century. We seek a lifetime GI Bill for future generations of veterans that is protected from cuts by Congress. Student Veterans of America and a coalition of partners are advocating for these expansions and protections. Learn how you can get involved at ForeverGIBill.org.