Monday, August 3, 2009
Combat veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan showed up at a “Welcome Home” event at the V.A. Medical Center in La Jolla over the weekend. Many of them were looking for information on the new post-9/11 GI Bill.
The “Welcome Home” event reflects a Federal effort to help new veterans avoid the pitfalls that befell Vietnam vets, who got very little support when they returned home.
The busiest booth was the one handing out information about the new GI bill, which went into effect August 1.
Alice Slumco, Military Services Coordinator for the V.A., said the biggest change from the old GI bill is the new housing allowance.
“We had a lot of questions about the basic allowance for housing” she said , “and the housing allowance is tied in to the zip code where the school is located. It would be $2,018 a month if you go to school more than half time.”
The housing allowance in San Diego is generous because of the high cost of housing in this region.
Jesse Espinosa, retired last year after 8 years in the Navy, said he wants to go back to school, but he’s still adjusting to civilian life.
“I’m taking little baby steps right now because I haven’t been in school for such a long time, so I’m going to start out probably online courses and then work my way to full time.”
Espinosa said the new GI Bill won’t help with online courses. But he will be eligible for the benefit for 15 years after leaving the service.
The benefit is available for those who have served at least 90 days active duty since 9/11. The full benefit is only available for those who have served 36 months.