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Proposed Law Would Close GI Bill Loophole

Under the current rules of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, military members are permitted to transfer their unused GI Bill benefits to qualifying spouses and school-age children.

However, the transfer requires the servicemember to commit to a new tour of duty, and the benefits can’t be transferred after leaving the military. That leaves out certain veterans awarded the Purple Heart in the 9/11 era of military service, but a new law could end that loophole.

Forever GI Bill Benefits For Purple Heart Awardees

Purple Heart veterans were awarded GI Bill benefits as part of the reforms known as the Forever GI Bill. Those awarded the Purple Heart on or after September 11, 2001, qualify for the GI Bill at the 100% entitlement rate as long as there is an Honorable discharge for “any amount of service.”

Post-9/11 Purple Heart veterans qualify for this benefit regardless of whether that service was enough to qualify for the GI Bill traditionally.

Related: Veteran Education Benefits

An Important GI Bill Reform

It was a major improvement to the GI Bill benefit, but as originally written, there was a problem for Purple Heart recipients who wanted to transfer their GI Bill benefit to a spouse or college-age child.

Those who have Purple Heart-related GI Bill benefits but are not currently serving cannot transfer them unless a new law closes the loophole as described below.

A Bipartisan Effort

Senators from both sides of the aisle have introduced the Purple Heart Veterans Education Act, which, according to a report by the Washington State Standard, would allow Purple Heart awardees recognized on or after September 11, 2001, to transfer these benefits without requiring them to recommit to another tour of duty at transfer time.

The proposed transfer rules for Purple Heart recipients include options similar to those for those who transfer while still serving. 36 months of GI Bill benefits may be split between multiple eligible household members, the benefit may be used after the death of the servicemember where applicable, and the transfer may be revoked by the veteran.

The law would also create a protected status for the GI Bill so that it cannot be claimed as “marital property” in a divorce or similar proceeding.

The Washington State Standard article notes an increase in Purple Heart awardees in recent years due to operations in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Some sources report nearly two million Purple Hearts have been awarded since the early 1930s.

What’s Ahead?

This bill is not signed into law. It’s at the early stages of the process at the time of this writing and there are no guarantees the law will make it to the end of that journey.

But such proposed laws have become more commonplace over time, and if this particular act does not pass a similar version of it may be drafted sometime in the future.

Related: Veteran Education Benefits

About the author

Editor-in-Chief | + posts

Editor-in-Chief Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter/editor for Air Force Television News and the Pentagon Channel. His freelance work includes contract work for Motorola, VALoans.com, and Credit Karma. He is co-founder of Dim Art House in Springfield, Illinois, and spends his non-writing time as an abstract painter, independent publisher, and occasional filmmaker.