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Family Matters Blog: Blogger Urges Readers to Make Use of GI Bill

By Jim Hardiman
Special to American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 26, 2010 – Today's guest blogger is Jim Hardiman, a licensed clinical social worker and substance abuse counselor at the Defense Center of Excellence for Psychological Health & Traumatic Brain Injury. Before joining the center, Jim was a regional care coordinator for the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center. Jim writes a monthly post for the center's blog on various psychological health conditions affecting servicemembers, veterans and their families—offering encouragement in his blog "A Corner of Hope."

In this blog, Jim writes about how the face of the military undergraduate has changed since the original GI Bill was created in 1944, and encourages troops and veterans to take advantage of the improved benefits in the Post-9/11 GI bill.

A Corner of Hope: New GI Bill Answers the Changing Needs of the Military Student

Since the original inception of the GI Bill in 1944 (my dad took advantage of this one), the face of the military undergraduate student has changed. According to a 2009 study by the American Council on Education during the 2007-08 academic year, military undergraduates:


-- Were younger than most veterans. For example, 85 percent were age 24 or older;

-- Were women (27 percent of all military undergraduates);

-- Were more likely to be non-white than most veterans and traditional undergraduates;

-- Favor public colleges and universities;

-- Attended two-year colleges (43 percent);

-- Were married (48 percent); and

-- Were parents (47 percent).

Military students face numerous challenges, such as:

-- Balancing school with marriage and raising children;

-- Working while going to school;

-- Adjusting to the college and campus life cultural; and

-- Dealing with individuals who have no idea what military service entails.

Additionally, with the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, some military undergraduates may be experiencing psychological health and traumatic brain injury conditions.

However, these challenges or others shouldn't stop you from succeeding. The Post 9/11 GI Bill, passed in July 2008, offers many new benefits. Check out these facts to help you make the best decision for you and/or your family. Under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, you can receive:

-- College credit for military experience;

-- Educational benefits without having to contribute money;

-- Housing allowance based on local housing costs and a yearly allowance for books and supplies;

-- Entire coverage of your college education paid directly, up to the total cost of the most expensive program of study at a public university in your state of residence; and

-- Benefits for not only you, but also for your spouse and child.

Read more about the benefits and eligibility requirements for service members and veterans on the GI Bill website. Also, the American Council on Education's "Serving Those Who Serve: Higher Education and America's Veterans" initiative provides updates and changes as they are implemented.

No matter where you fall, your military experience coupled with a solid college education will make an impressive resume in the workplace. I hope you and your family take time to reflect, investigate, ask questions and pursue these great opportunities.

For more information on the GI Bill, check out the American Forces Press Service Web special.

To comment on this blog, please visit the Family Matters blog.

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