Florida Matters: Student Veterans and the Post 9-11 GI Bill
Before WWII – college was a dream for most Americans. Then came the GI Bill and almost 8 million veterans got an education.
Now, there’s the Post 9-11 GI Bill signed into law July 2008. It provides benefits to service members who have served 90 or more days active duty since September, 2001.
The Post 9-11 GI benefits depend on the amount of time served, but they can include up to 100 percent tuition, money for fees and books, a monthly housing stipend and the option to transfer benefits to family members.
The question is will the Post 9-11 GI Bill create a similar legacy for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars who some are calling the “Next Greatest Generation.”
Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Eric Shinseki, delivered a strong message to 600 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans earlier this month at the national convention of the Student Veterans of America.
Shinseki recounted similarities between veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom and WWII veterans like U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye, a Medal of Honor recipient, who died in December.
And we talk with four student veterans from the University of South Florida about the Post 9-11 GI Bill and improvements they say would help student veterans be more successful.
Kiersten Downs served seven years in the U.S. Air Force and New York Air National Guard and is a USF doctoral student in applied cultural anthropology. She also is the current president of the USF Student Veterans Association and nominated to serve on the national leadership council with the Veterans of America.
Patrick Schweickart is currently serving six years in the U.S. Marine Corps. He served four years at Camp Lejeune and is now in the Reserves. He’s studying criminology at USF and works at the student veterans center.
Josiah Hill served as an officer in the U.S. Coast Guard for five years on drug interdiction missions in South America. He’s a first year medical student at USF Morsani College of Medicine and a Pat Tillman Military Scholar.
Andrew Napier also is a Pat Tillman Military Scholar and applicant to USF’s Morsani College of Medicine. He served six years in the Army National Guard and was deployed to Afghanistan in 2008-2009 as a combat medic. And he’s student veteran a policy adviser at USF.
They are among the estimated 2 million OEF/OIF veterans expected to earn a higher education degree or training certificate thanks to the Post 9-11 GI Bill.
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