On October 20, 2014, the Department of Veterans Affairs issued the following VA Press Release explaining the expansion of Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to surviving spouses of servicemembers killed while on active duty. This announcement is implementation of one of the statutory provisions of the recent Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 (“Choice Act”).
It also gives me an opportunity to comment on the historical significance of the VA GI Bill in 20th Century history (http://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill/history.asp) and its importance in my decision to join the military and represent veterans before the Department of Veterans Affairs.
As a sophomore in college, I was attending an introductory course in 20th Century History. I can’t recall what brought up the conversation, however, the professor, a Vietnam veteran, raised the issue of the significance of his eligibility for the GI Bill in his education and how that effected the course of his life. He then persisted to question the unwillingness of students to enter public service. I believe many in the class left somewhat perplexed by what appeared to be a scolding. Personally, I left questioning how this interplayed with the decision of the United States to enter WWII and the general role of military service. This was reinforced again at law school when, if I recall correctly, Professor Alfred Slocum, presented a similar speech as the significance of the GI Bill on his own education.
What can we take away from my admitted tangent: (1) teachers be careful what you say lest you want your student to be sitting in a desert watching Marine attack helicopters hunt enemy mortar positions; and (2) despite the issues (both perceived and real) within the Department of Veterans Affairs, it is a critical federal agency that provides much needed support for veterans and their loved ones.