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On Veterans Day, GI Bill boosts vets and the military

After a rough first year, the new GI Bill that pays for a college education generally pleases veterans and military recruiters. But the program needs to be closely monitored for workability and recruiting.

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This Veterans Day, the first field reports are in for the most generous educational benefits for recent American vets since World War II – the “new” GI Bill.

They show that generally, veterans are happy with the package and so are military recruiters. That’s an important plus for those who have served their country in the longest sustained combat period in American military history. It’s also a boost to the voluntary aspect of the armed forces.

But this $78 billion program has been tough to deploy. It needs continued tracking and oversight during its 10-year life span – and adjusting. The US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) must keep focusing on better delivery of the benefits. And the Pentagon must continue to closely monitor the effects of the so-called post-9/11 GI Bill on the retention of soldiers and officers who might be tempted by the benefits to leave the service.

The benefits, which took effect in August 2009, vastly improve educational opportunities for American veterans who have served at least 30 days after Sept. 11, 2001.

It fully covers tuition at state-run schools of higher education, and provides stipends for books and living expenses based on the military’s housing allowance. Matching federal dollars are available for attending private colleges that also give veterans financial aid.

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